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Mar. 10, 2015 - Updated 04:16 UTC

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S.Korea votes for new leader

May 9, 2017

South Koreans are voting at about 14,000 polling stations that opened across the country at 6am local time as they choose the country's next president.

Among the candidates, three closely contested the leadership during the final stretch of the campaign.

The frontrunner is Moon Jae-in, a liberal and leader of the Democratic Party.

As a lawyer, Moon worked closely with the late president Roh Moo-hyun, serving as his presidential campaign manager and later becoming his Chief of Staff.

Following Roh's death, Moon entered politics and became a lawmaker in 2012.

That same year, he ran in the presidential election, but lost to conservative Park Geun-hye in a closely fought campaign.

Ahn Cheol-soo is a centrist who is running second in the polls.

He studied medicine at a prestigious university and became a successful entrepreneur after graduating.

He was also a candidate in the 2012 presidential election, but later dropped out and endorsed Moon in a failed attempt to prevent Park from winning.

Following the election, Ahn became a lawmaker and formed the People's Party.

Hong Joon-pyo is a conservative and belongs to the Liberty Korea Party, previously known as the Saenuri Party.

The party changed its name following the scandal involving its former leader, Park Guen-hye. Hong is a former prosecutor, governor and four-term lawmaker.

National security and the economy are the biggest concerns for voters, especially how to deal with North Korea.

Moon is promoting a more conciliatory approach towards Pyongyang. He recently proposed to swap surplus rice from the South for rare earth minerals from the North.

Ahn is taking a harder line on the North, calling for tougher sanctions before any negotiations take place.

And Hong takes the most hawkish policy of all. He wants the US to deploy nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula to counter the North's nuclear program.


Newsroom Tokyo anchor Sho Beppu is joined by NHK Seoul Bureau Chief Shuhei Ikehata. Watch the video for his analysis.