South Korea's new leader Moon Jae-in was sworn in, hours after winning a landslide victory in the five-way presidential race. He vowed to address the economy and relations with the North in his first speech as president.
After winning the presidential election, Moon said: "This is the great victory for the great people who have been with me to build a just country, united country and a country where principle and common sense works." He believes that his win came from the "desperation of the people for a new government."
Moon, the Democratic Party's candidate to replace ousted President Park Geun-hye, said that he would even be willing to visit Pyongyang under the right circumstances. He took his oath of office at the National Assembly building in Seoul a day after his decisive win.
"I would do everything I can to build peace on the Korean peninsula," Moon said in his inauguration speech. "If needed I will fly to Washington immediately," he said. "I will also go to Beijing and Tokyo and even Pyongyang in the right circumstances."
The former human rights lawyer and son of North Korean refugees also vowed to unify a divided country reeling from a corruption scandal which saw his predecessor, Park Geun-hye, impeached.
While, tensions on the Korean peninsula remain high, Moon said that he would have "serious negotiations" with the US and China over the controversial deployment of anti-missile system Thaad.
The White House has congratulated Moon Jae-in on his landslide victory in the South Korean presidential election. "We congratulate President-elect Moon Jae-in and join the people of South Korea in celebrating their peaceful, democratic transition of power. We look forward to working with President-elect Moon to continue to strengthen the alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea and to deepen the enduring friendship and partnership between our two countries," press secretary Sean Spicer said.
North Korea is yet to officially comment on Moon's victory and remarks. However, previously it had hinted that Moon was its preferred candidate.
According to the National Election Commission (NEC), the 64-year-old leader secured 13,423,800 votes, or 41.08 per cent of the total 32,807,908 votes cast. A written certificate confirming Moon's election was presented to the new President.
The NEC said in a statement that more than 11 million people, which is about 26% of the electorate, participated in the early voting. The election came after Park, the country's first female President, was impeached in a corruption scandal. A number of voters said they were angry at Park and wanted greater transparency.
"The electorate wants to punish the whole party for the misrule of the Park era," John Delury, a professor at Yonsei University told CNN.
Initially, Moon will have to depend on Park's Cabinet ministers and aides without the usual two-month transition. But, he is expected to move quickly to replace them with people of his own. The new president will not serve the rest of Park's term but rather will serve out the typical single five-year term.