President-elect Moon Jae-in is an activist-turned-politician who is widely expected to stress integration between different political parties, as well as the two Koreas throughout his five-year term that will begin later Wednesday.
The 64-year-old candidate of the liberal Democratic Party is sure to win the presidential election held Tuesday and will be inaugurated immediately following confirmation of his victory by the National Election Commission.
Born to a poor family in Geoje, a small island some 420 kilometers south of Seoul in South Gyeongsang Province, Moon worked as a human rights lawyer for nearly two decades along with the late former President Roh Moo-hyun.
He entered the public arena in 2002 as a key campaigner for Roh during the presidential election.
He later served as a senior secretary to Roh in 2005-2006 and chief of staff in 2007-2008. Moon nearly disappeared from the public eye for nearly four years until 2012 when he was elected to the National Assembly in Busan, the country's second-largest city, which is close to his hometown but considered a traditional stronghold of conservatives.
He went on to represent the then-main opposition Democratic United Party in the presidential election later that year, but lost to Park Geun-hye of the then-ruling Saenuri Party.
Despite his election to the parliament, the former opposition leader long struggled with widely held beliefs that he was a militant radical, an image apparently stemming from his participation in pro-democracy demonstrations that led to his arrests in 1975 and 1980.
Also, Moon has frequently been accused of being too soft and sympathetic with North Korea, apparently for his links to former liberal governments under Roh and his predecessor, Kim Dae-jung, the late exponent of the "Sunshine Policy" of engaging the communist North through dialogue.
Many of his conservative opponents called him a pro-North Korea leftist in the lead up to this week's election.
His opponents chided his remarks that he might visit Pyongyang before any other country if elected.
He later explained he was stressing the importance of ridding the North of its nuclear weapons through peaceful means.
Domestically, the president-elect has stressed social integration and advocated the rights of the have-nots and the socially weak.
As the next president, Moon has promised to greatly boost social benefits to the poor and the elderly, which will include a fixed 300,000 won (US$265) monthly allowance to all people 65 years and older in the lower 70 percent of the income bracket.
On the economic side, the president-elect has pledged to create 810,000 new jobs in the public sector alone over the next five years, which he said will help fetch 500,000 new jobs in the private sector each year.
Moon graduated from Seoul's Kyunghee University and passed the state bar exam in 1980. He is married with one son and a daughter.
The Moons have their family home in Yangsan, some 400 kilometers south of Seoul in South Gyeongsang Province.
Moon earlier reported to have accumulated 1.86 billion won ($1.64 million) in family wealth. (Yonhap)