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Your Wednesday Briefing: South Korea’s New President

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Plus protests in the Philippines and a weakened Japanese yen.
Good morning. We’re covering South Korea’s new president, the Philippines election fallout and Japan’s weakened yen. During his inaugural speech on Tuesday, President Yoon Suk-yeol made promises to heal political and economic divides in South Korea and proposed an ambitious package of economic incentives to North Korea in exchange for denuclearization. Yoon, who won by a razor-thin margin and faces a contentious Parliament, inherits a frustrated, unequal and socially divided South Korea. He acknowledged the “internal strife and discord” in his speech, urging voters to look toward more rapid growth. But Yoon’s most urgent crisis is North Korea, which has accelerated missile tests in recent months. Experts warn that the North could resume nuclear tests this month. Strategy: In contrast to outgoing President Moon Jae-in, who prioritized improving inter-Korean ties, Yoon’s foreign policy team has emphasized enforcing sanctions against the North. When conservatives tried the strategy in the mid-2000s, North Korea responded with some of its most serious military provocations since the end of the Korean War. Diplomacy: Yoon pledged to fight for values like “freedom” and “liberal democracy.” Unlike Moon, he has distanced himself from China and said he would align his country more closely with Washington. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son and namesake of a former dictator, clinched a landslide victory in one of the most divisive presidential elections in recent Philippines history. On Tuesday, angry young voters who had rallied around his rival, Leni Robredo, gathered to voice their frustration with preliminary results showing her overwhelming defeat. Many raised questions about the election: Multiple observers have said they had received thousands of reports of anomalies since the vote on Monday. Robredo, the current vice president, has yet to concede defeat, and Marcos has yet to claim victory. Robredo said her team was looking into reports of voter fraud, but opinion polls had suggested Marcos would win by a large margin.

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