(LinkAsia: December 21, 2012) Yul Kwon: After months of preparation and weeks of campaigning, South Korea has a new president. Park Geun-hye defeated her opponent Moon Jae-in on Wednesday to become South Korea's first female president. Here's a report from Japanese public broadcaster NHK on what Park's win means for South Korea.
NHK World NEWSLINE Airdate: December 20, 2012
Reporter: Experts say the high voter turnout helped Park win more than 50 percent of the ballots. Some initially thought it would favor opposition candidate Moon Jae-in who has widespread support among young people. In past presidential elections, voters in their thirties or younger outnumbered those in their fifties or older. But this time around, the reverse happened. Perhaps because the society is aging, and birthrates are declining. The 50-plus set accounted for more than 40 percent of all voters. And they propelled Park into the top job. Park visited the national cemetery the day after her election win as all president- elects do. Then she outlined the plans.
Park Geun-hye: My dream and hope is to make use of all the hidden potential of the South Korean people. We can create a Republic of Korea in which everyone will be guaranteed the rights to pursue happiness. I'll make it possible for all the people to share the fruits of our economic growth.
Voter: I expect the new president to revive the economy and keep her promise to improve our lives.
Voter: I hope the new government will do a lot to boost employment since it's been a tough time for young people. I want Park to keep her promises.
Reporter: Some South Koreans want to be tough with the North. Others favor reconciliation. Park says it's her mission to ease tensions and maintain security. She refers to last week's launch, which North Korean officials said use the rocket to send a satellite into orbit, and other nations called a ballistic missile test.
Park Geun-hye: North Korea's missile launch was a symbolic act that showed us how serious our security situation is. We will begin a new era for our country with a strong security system and a trusted foreign policy. I will keep my promise to the people.
Reporter: Park spent part of this day exchanging views with ambassadors from Japan, the US, China, and Russia. She has already started moving to form her government. She'll meet with members of President Lee Myung-bak's outgoing administration to go over issues. A transfer commission will finalize her policies. Then in February she officially becomes the first woman in South Korea to be president.
(LinkAsia: December 21, 2012) Yul Kwon: President Obama is meeting with newly elected Shinzo Abe next month in Washington. Territorial disputes with South Korea and China will be on the agenda. Stability in the region is central to the United States' pivot to Asia. Here's NHK with more.
NHK World NEWSLINE Airdate: December 18, 2012
Reporter: People in the Obama administration place a high priority on stability in the Asia-Pacific. They have been troubled by the increasing tension between Japan and China over which country owns the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. And they're concerned that if the conflicting claims are allowed to fester it could unsettle the dynamic in the region. They want to see major security policies, and sophisticated diplomacy to calm the situation. US leaders are wary of being drawn into a confrontation because of their alliance with Japan.
Victoria Nuland: Our message to the new Japanese government will be the new Japanese government will be the same as our message to the former Japanese government which is that we want to see both Japan and China avoid provocative acts. We want to see them talk to each other and work this through by dialogue.
Reporter: Now Japan is tied up in another territorial dispute with South Korea. US officials would like to see the Japanese put aside their differences with its neighbor over Takeshima islands in the Sea of Japan. American diplomats rely on the partners in both countries to contain the threat of North Korea. As we saw last week, the North Koreans may be well on their way to gaining technology to launch long-range ballistic missiles. President Barack Obama has said that the US-Japan alliance should serve as the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific. The revolving door to the Japanese Prime Minister's office has made it difficult for Obama and those around him to cooperate substantially on any issue. The want a reliable partner, a stable government with a strong mandate that is more coherent in its policies. In short, they would like to see an end to the political volatility.
(LinkAsia: December 14, 2012) Yul Kwon: So, perhaps the North Korean missile is more of a long-term threat than an imminent one. But, will it have a political effect? South Koreans go to the polls on December 19th to elect a new president. Japan's public broadcaster, NHK has this report on how the rocket might affect voters.
NHK World NEWSLINE Airdate: December 12, 2012
Reporter: I'm standing at the unification observatory only two kilometers from the North Korean border. From here we have not detected any unusual activity on the other side that might be related to the missile launch. However, on this side, the presidential race is entering its final phase. The launch has definitely raised concerns about security. People in Seoul are expressing dismay and anger.
Seoul Resident: A missile launch is totally unacceptable. We belong to the same race, but I never understand what they are trying to achieve through such an act.
Seoul Resident: I was shocked they did this just before South Korea's presidential election. We need to beef up our national security.
Reporter: South Korea's foreign minister Kim Song-hun condemned the North's decision to push forward with what it called a provocative act. He said the launch is a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions. President Lee Myung-bak has maintained a hard-line policy against the North. During his five year term, Pyongyang has carried out three long-range missile launches and one nuclear experiment. There have been other military provocations. The North shelled Yongpyang Island and is said to have sunk a South Korean naval patrol ship in the Yellow Sea. And the presidential election next week, the two main contenders stressing the need to improve North-South relations, but people are taking a realistic view. Recent polls show many citizens feel that they don't support hard-line policies against the North. Nor do they believe in appeasement. The North missile launch is expected to influence voters' decisions.
(LinkAsia: November 30, 2012) Yul Kwon: South Koreans go to the polls in three weeks to elect a new president. The campaign officially got underway this week and two candidates are leading opinion polls. Here's how Japan's public broadcaster NHK reported the first day of electioneering.
NHK World NEWSLINE Airdate: November 22, 2012
Reporter: Park Geun-hye of the ruling Saenuri party is one of the front runners. She visited a national cemetery in Seoul where she paid her respects to those who died in the Korean War and other conflicts. Park expressed her determination to become the country's first female president.
Park Geun-hye: South Korea has to choose whether it wants to move forward with a prepared future or go back to the past, which is marked with failure. We are now standing at a crucial crossroads.
Reporter: Park also said she will promise to build a nation where everyone can lead a happy life. She's locked in a tight race with Moon Jae-in of the opposition Democratic United Party. He spoke in the second largest city of Busan near his hometown.
Moon Jae-in: I promise to become the first president to democratize the economy, and establish a strong welfare system through a new type of politics.
Reporter: Moon also talked about entrepreneur turned politician Ahn Cheol-soo. Ahn dropped out of the race last week to give Moon a better chance of victory when voters head to the polls on December 19th. Moon said he'll never forget Ahn's sacrifice. He asked Ahn's supporters to back him.