The Statesman’s Yearbook Online

edited by Dr Barry Turner

Moon Jae-in

Image courtesy of wikipedia





Moon Jae-in, a former aide to President Roh Moo-hyun, unsuccessfully contested the 2012 presidential election before winning the snap election of 9 May 2017.


Moon Jae-in was born on 24 Jan. 1953 in Geoje, in present-day North Korea. He became active in student politics while studying law at Kyunghee University, and was arrested and expelled for leading a protest against the dictatorship of President Park Chung-hee. He completed his mandatory military service between 1975 and 1978 before passing his Bar exams. As a human rights lawyer in the 1980s, he grew close to Roh Moo-hyun through their involvement in pro-democracy protests. Moon joined Roh’s administration in 2008 as an aide, eventually becoming chief of staff.

Moon won a seat in the National Assembly in April 2012. He was then nominated as the then Democratic United Party’s candidate to contest the presidential election that year but was narrowly defeated by Park Geun-hye. Following the March 2017 impeachment of Park amid corruption allegations, Moon once again stood as a presidential candidate. He pledged to adopt a softer approach to North Korea but a less conciliatory one towards the USA. Moon won the election on 9 May with 41·1% of the vote and was sworn in the following day.


Moon is expected to challenge the economic dominance of the chaebol (business conglomerates). He has argued for more transparent government, and has pledged to move the president’s office to the Gwanghwamun district of Seoul that bore witness to the protests against President Park.

On the international stage, he faces the challenge of rebalancing relations with the USA and with North Korea against the backdrop of Pyongyang’s continued nuclear and ballistic missile tests and regional military threat.

What do you think? SYB welcomes comment on this feature and on any other entry on our website.
Contact us on connect via our Facebook page or follow us on twitter.