South Korea has been shaken by a succession of corruption scandals involving politicians, judges, senior officials, businessmen and even academics. Impeachment of the country’s first female president, the conservative Park Guen-hye, was confirmed by the Constitutional Court, and snap Presidential elections take place on 9 May 2017.
Moon Jae-in, a liberal politician and a leading Minjoo (Democratic Party) personality, leads the polls and is the prospective next President of South Korea. Whoever will run the country is expected to launch an era of political and constitutional reform, as well as reducing the power of the chaebol, business conglomerates which enjoy outsize influence and impunity. Moon and the Minjoo are critical of deployment of the US-developed anti-missile shield, Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD). A new direction to relations with North Korea is also expected, with a shift from military deterrence to an engagement attitude.
This new course could favour stability in the region, paving the way for a new role for the European Union, which could offer its experience in dialogue and integration to engage in a possible future denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.