Democracy leader Kim Dae Jung has won the South Korean presidency.
It may have taken him four tries and 26 years to succeed but he won't have much time to relish his victory.
Voters expect him to move quickly to turn the economy around but that didn't stop his supporters from partying well into the night as they celebrated his victory.
Jubilant crowds gathered outside Kim Dae Jung's home in the South Korean capital of Seoul to celebrate their leader's victory in the presidential elections.
Fireworks lit up the night sky and champagne corks were popped, as they chanted Kim's name.
But Wall Street was a little less enthusiastic.
As news of his victory reached New York, the Dow Jones Industrial average fell nearly 147 points, before later recovering about a quarter of its losses.
One U-S economist said Kim's election signalled a greater risk of more
resistance at the top levels of the Korean government to the International Monetary Fund's plan for reviving the economy.
But for 73 year-old Kim, once persecuted by military dictators, victory was the crowning achievement of a maverick political career spanning four decades.
It was sweet, too, for his supporters.
"He worked so hard for our country's democracy for 40 years. I am so happy for him."
SUPER CAPTION: Kim Dae Jung supporter
Officials from the National Congress for New Politics party were also delighted that all their hard work had paid off.
The party's vice spokesman was naturally in confident mood.
"The fact that there has been a change of power in 50 years is victory for democracy. As of today, Kim's government will draw up plans to
bring harmony between the people. It will further be able to use harmony and forgiveness to unite the country. Furthermore, it will overcome the current economic crisis by quickly bringing in loans through the I-M-F."
SUPER CAPTION: Jang Sung Min, The National Congress for New
Politics, Vice spokesman
Kim's victory dominated the headlines as South Koreans absorbed the news that the opposition had won.
Interest has been intense in this election.
Turnout was heavy in a young nation that takes its democracy seriously and turns its presidential elections into national holidays.
Election officials said 80.6 per cent of the 33 (m) million eligible voters went to the polls.
To get his photo of the front page as president has been a long held desire for this veteran politician.
Kim first ran for president in 1971, but until Friday neither he nor anybody else had been able to defeat the tightly-knit political
alliances that have ruled South Korea since its founding in 1948.
The latest nominee of that coalition, Lee Hoi Chang - seen here at the Grand National Party headquarters - conceded defeat on Friday morning.
Party officials were downcast at the close result.
Kim got 40.3 percent, or 10,326,275 votes while Lee was only able to gain 38.7 percent, or 9,935,718 votes.
But at least Lee does not now have to face the massive task of getting the economy back into shape.
Kim's options will be limited by restrictions put on South Korea when the International Monetary Fund came to its rescue earlier this month with a record 57 (b) billion dollar bailout.
The I-M-F demanded that South Korea restrain its economic growth,
raise taxes and interest rates and slow the expansion of its powerful conglomerates.
Those dictates could make Kim an unpopular man if, as most analysts predict, they result in the loss of up to 1 (m) million jobs next year.
Perhaps recognising that, he promised voters two weeks ago that he would force the I- M-F to renegotiate the most punitive terms, if he was elected.
But that backfired when investors raced for the exits and the value of South Korea's currency and stocks nosedived.
Kim had to backtrack and pledge to adhere to the I-M-F's conditions.
For the first time in four decades, economic woes overshadowed the threat from communist North Korea - a concern that dominated previous elections.
Kim's victory seems to reflect the desire of many voters to shed any vestige of the disgraced administration of President Kim, which led the nation to the verge of economic ruin.