Five-term lawmaker Kim Moo-sung, who represents the non-mainstream faction of the party, secured a comfortable win over pro-Park Geun-hye heavyweight Suh Chung-won at the Saenuri Party convention on Monday.
With Kim now in charge, the ruling party's relationship with the presidential house of Cheong Wa Dae is expected to undergo significant changes.
The newly-elected leader promised to establish a relationship of healthy tension between the party and the president and to speak out against President Park Geun-hye's administration when necessary, while at the same time vowing to help out the president in her drive for reforms.
"As I mentioned in my acceptance speech, we are in the same boat. We share a common destiny, and together will meet any difficulties we face. With that in mind, I will do my best to support the president."
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He's also signaled he would reach across the aisle to the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, which favored Kim in the Saenuri Party leadership race due to his relative independence from the president's influence.
All are challenges Kim faces over the next couple of years, but his most immediate one will be preparing his party for by-elections in just two weeks time in which 15 parliamentary seats are up for grabs.
Ji Myung-kil, Arirang News.