South Korea has a new president. As anticipated, former Hyundai CEO Lee Myung Bak won a landslide victory in Wednesday’s election. A conservative, Mr. Lee has promised to re-examine many of the policies of his predecessors. His presidency offers Japan a chance to rebuild a crucial relationship that has deteriorated over the last five years. But Japanese must also recognize — as Mr. Lee himself will discover — that there is likely to be considerable continuity in South Korean policy as well.
After leading opinion polls for months, Mr. Lee won 48.7 percent of votes cast. His chief opponent, Mr. Chung Dong Young, an ally of incumbent President Roh Moo Hyun, ran a distant second, with 26.1 percent. Ominously for Mr. Lee, third place went to Mr. Lee Hoi Chang, another conservative politician who believes the president-elect may not be hardline enough in dealing with North Korea. With 13 percent of the vote, the other Mr. Lee looks like a force to be reckoned with in National Assembly elections to be held in April.
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