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“If Na wins, you can say it is the same-old, same-old,” Tom Coyner, distributor of the Korean Economic Reader newsletter, said before the final vote tally. “If Park wins, given the fact that he stands clear of direct political affiliation, it is a refutation of the old Korean political order.”

Meanwhile, a close associate of Mr. Park, Ahn Cheol-soo, is surrounded by media rumors that he will run as an independent presidential candidate.

Mr. Ahn is a rarity in South Korea: The founder of the nation’s leading antivirus software company, AhnLab, he is unconnected to the giant conglomerates that dominate the economy.