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Yoon Suk Yeol elected President of South Korea

Yoon Suk Yeol elected President of South Korea

South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol said Thursday he will solidify an alliance with the United States, build a powerful military and sternly cope with North Korean provocations, hours after he won a hard-fought election to become the country’s next leader.

Yoon, a conservative whose single five-year term begins in May, said during the campaign that he would make a stronger alliance with the United States the center of his foreign policy. 

After his election win, he spoke with U.S. President Joe Biden on the phone. According to a White House statement, Biden congratulated Yoon and emphasized the U.S. commitment to the defense of South Korea. 

 On Japan, Yoon said Seoul and Tokyo should focus on building future-oriented ties. “The focus in South Korea-Japan relations should be finding future paths that would benefit the people of both countries,” he said.

Yoon, who ran on the ticket of the main opposition People Power Party, previously served as Moon’s prosecutor general. But he left the Moon government and joined the opposition last year.

Wednesday’s election was largely a two-way showdown between Yoon and liberal governing party candidate Lee Jae-myung.

 Yoon focused much of his campaigning on vows to create more jobs and restore social mobility by making a fairer, competitive environment for young people.

On domestic issues, Yoon faces urgent tasks to suppress a record-breaking COVID-19 surge, ease widening economic inequalities and runaway housing prices and heal a nation sharply split along regional lines, ideologies, age and gender.

Yoon said building a better pandemic response would be a priority for his transition committee, which would design plans to reinforce the country’s medical capacities and create more effective financial packages to help devastated service sector businesses.

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