Liberal presidential candidate Moon Jae-in declared his victory in South Korea's presidential election held Tuesday, saying he will become a president who will make his country and people proud.
"I will build a new nation. I will make a great Korea, A proud Korea. And I will be the proud president of such a proud nation," he told his supporters in Seoul's Gwanghwamun area.
Over 32.8 million, or 77.2 percent, of 42.4 million eligible voters cast ballots in the rare presidential by-election held Tuesday.
Moon had 39.5 percent of 12.7 million votes counted so far, but an exit poll had shown him as a clear and sure winner of the election, with over 41 percent of all votes cast.
The Democratic Party candidate was followed by Hong Joon-pyo of the conservative Liberty Korea Party with 26.5 percent of the votes counted so far. The exit poll had him in second with 23.3 percent of the votes.
The National Election Commission earlier said the vote counting could take more than 10 hours.
However, Hong and other minor candidates have already accepted their defeat.
"If the outcome of the exit poll is true, I will be happy to have rebuilt the party that had collapsed," Hong said earlier.
Hong's former ruling party, previously called the Saenuri Party, was split in two following the defection of 33 lawmakers who backed the parliamentary impeachment of then-President Park Geun-hye over a corruption scandal. They later created the Bareun Party in January.
The former conservative president was ousted on March 10 by a Constitutional Court ruling that upheld the parliamentary impeachment of her over a series of corruption allegations that have also led to her arrest and indictment.
Tuesday's election had been viewed to be tilted in favor of liberal candidates as it followed the massive corruption scandal involving the former conservative leader.
Ahn Cheol-soo of the center-left People's Party was expected to finish third with 21.8 percent of the votes, according to the exit poll conducted by the three major broadcasters here -- MBC, KBS and SBS.
Sim Sang-jeung of the progressive Justice Party was also said to have won 5.9 percent of votes, trailing Yoo Seong-min of the splinter conservative Bareun Party with 7.1 percent.(Yonhap News)
Moon's pledges: reform of state power organizations
The following are President-elect Moon Jae-in's pledges on reform of state power organizations.
-- Clean up evils which have been accumulated during the past nine years of conservative presidency
-- Realize a substantial democracy through a readjustment of powers of law enforcement agencies
-- Return presidential privileges to the people
1) Return presidential privileges to the people
-- Relocate the presidential office from Cheongwadae to the government complex
-- Return and make public the presidential resort island of Jeodo, South Gyeongsang Province, for the sake of local residents' fishing rights
-- Make public presidential movements around the clock
-- Implement a real name system in making personnel recommendations
-- Abolish the presidential security office and set up a presidential security bureau under the National Police Agency
2) Launch a new corruption investigation body and reform the prosecution
-- Set up a new investigative body dedicated to uncovering ranking officials' corruption
-- Separate the prosecution rights to investigate and indict
-- Transfer the prosecution's investigative rights to the police
-- Allow the prosecution to hold rights to indict only in principle. Supplementary investigation rights can be permitted to it only in case the need to maintain an indictment arises
3) Introduce a local police system
-- Introduce a local police system by region
-- Decentralize the public security administration
-- Strengthen the democratic control of the police by substantially empowering the Korean National Police Commission
-- Transfer the National Intelligence Service's (NIS) domestic information-gathering function to the police, with the NIS dedicated to overseas information collecting
4) Reorganize the NIS as the "Overseas Safety Information Service"
-- Completely abolish the NIS' domestic information-gathering business and revamp it as the provisionally named Overseas Safety Information Service which will be in charge of collecting information only on North Korea and other nations, security, terror and international crimes
-- Rescind the NIS' investigation function and create a security investigation bureau under the National Police Agency which will be in charge of investigating North Korean agents and pro-North Korea activities
-- Sternly hold to account and strengthen punishments against organizations and persons who are involved in four major security crimes -- illicit civilian inspections, political and election interventions, espionage manipulations and McCarthyism
-- Strengthen a parliamentary control system to prevent intelligence agencies from abusing their power and violating human rights in carrying out their anti-terror and anti-cybercrime business.
5) Strengthen the independence of Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI)
-- Cement BAI independence
-- Transfer BAI's auditing rights to the National Assembly, establish an auditing agency under the Assembly, specify the new agency's independence in the Constitution, and change the BAI status from an constitutional entity to a legal one.
-- Relocation of presidential office and Cheongwadae opening
┖> Map out a plan to move the current presidential office from Cheongwadae this year, and raise its necessary expenditures in the fiscal 2018 budget for its completion by 2019.
-- Reform of the prosecution, the introduction of a local police system and NIS reorganization
┖> Push for the revision of related laws this year and complete the goals within a year that related laws are passed
-- Strengthen BAI independence
┖> Push for the goal in parallel with discussions on constitutional revision
-- Relocation of the presidential office and Cheongwadae opening: use general account budget
-- Prosecution reform and the introduction of the local police system: accomplish them simply through the revision of related laws as they do not require budgets