At last, it is over. A bitter presidential election campaign between two unpopular candidates, marred by scandal and notable chiefly for mudslinging, culminated on March 9th, when South Koreans turned out in droves to keep from office one of two roundly despised men: Yoon Suk-yeol of the conservative People Power Party, and Lee Jae-myung, a populist from the ruling left-of-centre Minjoo party. In the end it was Mr Yoon who prevailed—by a wafer-thin margin He will take charge of the world’s tenth-largest economy in May.
Mr Yoon, a former prosecutor instrumental in bringing down Park Geun-hye, a scandal-plagued former president, joined politics only last year. He ran on a platform of anti-corruption and a more realist foreign policy. Yet when he takes over from Moon Jae-in, the outgoing president, he will face a set of challenges similar to those that greeted his predecessor five years ago. At home, these include stratospheric house prices, a lack of opportunities for the young and a persistent disillusionment with politics. Abroad, he faces an increasingly tricky balancing act between China and the United States and tetchy relations with South Korea’s close neighbour, Japan.