New Leadership in South Korea, U.S. at a Critical Point

By Eunjung Lim

Eunjung Lim is a lecturer of Korea Studies at Johns Hopkins SAIS. Her areas of specialization are South Korean and Japanese political economy, comparative politics, and energy security policies of East Asian countries. She has been a researcher and visiting fellow at several institutes including the Center for Contemporary Korean Studies at Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies at the University of Tokyo, the Institute of Japanese Studies at Seoul National University, the Institute of Japan Studies at Kookmin University, and Institute of Energy Economics, Japan. Before joining the SAIS faculty, Eunjung Lim taught at several universities in Korea, including Yonsei University and Korea University.  She earned a B.A. from the University of Tokyo, an M.I.A. from Columbia University and a Ph.D from SAIS, Johns Hopkins University. She is fluent in Korean, Japanese and English.

On May 9, Moon Jae-in was elected as the new President of South Korea after six months of political turmoil and a power vacuum caused by Park Geun-hye’s impeachment scandal. This is a return of nationalistic and progressive leadership after the past two conservative administrations, and Moon’s landslide victory indicates how strongly the Korean electorate desired a total reform of the country.

Moon’s political career cannot be explained without mentioning Roh Moo-hyun, the liberal President who ranked the highest in terms of favorability (not approval rating) among Korean presidents. As is widely known, Moon served as the last chief of staff to then-President, and his old friend, Roh Moo-hyun.

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