Skip to comments.Conservative Park Geun-hye elected first female president of S. Korea
Posted on 12/19/2012 10:31:50 AM PST by Arthurio
SEOUL, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- Park Geun-hye of South Korea's ruling Saenuri Party won the tightly contested presidential election held Wednesday, becoming the first woman to lead the country and extending the conservative rule for another five years.
With 94.5 percent of the votes counted, Park, the 60-year-old daughter of South Korean dictator Park Chung-hee, won 51.7 percent of the vote, becoming the first one to garner more than half of all votes since democratic elections began in 1987.
Her archrival, Moon Jae-in of the main opposition Democratic United Party, was a close second with 47.9 percent.
Voter turnout was estimated at 75.8 percent, the highest in 15 years, according to the National Election Commission.
"I will become a president who puts people's livelihoods before anything else," Park told cheering crowds in central Seoul as she accepted her victory. "I will keep my promises."
Park, who ran on job creation, welfare expansion and engagement with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), had maintained a slight lead in almost all pre-election opinion surveys, though many were within the margin of error.
As a political veteran with the moniker "queen of elections," Park acted as the de facto first lady to her father after her mother was assassinated and is credited with reviving the Saenuri Party when it was mired in a series of devastating corruption scandals.
She remains widely popular among older voters nostalgic for rapid economic growth under the senior Park's 18-year authoritarian rule, while critics point to ruthless suppression of dissidents during his reign.
Despite dogged opposition criticism of Park for her reluctance to apologize for abuses under her father's watch, the five-term lawmaker proved yet again to be unassailable in key southern cities including her hometown of Deagu.
Moon, a 59-year-old former human rights lawyer who was once jailed for protesting the senior Park's repressive rule, had billed the election as a contest between vested interests and aspirations for new politics.
"I failed to keep the promise of an era of new politics," Moon said as he conceded defeat in a news conference at the campaign headquarters in Seoul. "I congratulate Park on her victory."
Moon, former chief of staff to late ex-President Roh Moo-hyun, was the sole candidate running on the liberal ticket after independent Ahn Cheol-soo and leftist candidate Lee Jung-hee bowed out of the race to throw their support behind him.
He sought to make the election a judgment call on the unpopular incumbent Lee Myung-bak, but Park successfully distanced herself from the man who had defeated her in the party primary five years ago.
Lee's single five-year term ends early February, 2013.
I was on duty at the I Corps tactical operations center as the G-2 duty NCO (even though I was an E-3) the night Korean President Park Chung-hee was assassinated by his own people. At first, we naturally assumed the North Koreans were attacking, as they had assaulted the Blue House before, killing the first lady and others. Many moons ago.
Interesting times ---
That sounds more Obamaish than conservative.
...”60-year-old daughter of South Korean dictator Park Chung-hee...”
Another political dynasty. And having had a dictator for a father, it probably wasn’t good training for her, or for the So. Koreans.
My second tour (1981-82) I was assigned to HHOC, 102nd Military Intelligence Battalion over at Camp Hovey, but I worked and lived on Casey at the DSE within the Aviation Battalion area across from the PX and gym.
Yeah... Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba might’ve helped us elect a Republican. ;^)
I suppose we should be glad that Mexico is not strong...
compared to the other side, she’s a TEA partier extremist
Her opponent thinks North Korea is to be emulated
And that is something we need to be watching very, very closely. If we believe that conservative principles work and liberal principles destroy nations, and if current trends in America continue, we're going to see America go the way of Europe while Asian nations turn into the economic, political, and military tiger assuming the role currently held by the United States.
I also find it very interesting that in Asia, which is anything but a bastion of women's rights, the newly elected president of South Korea is female and the new head of China has a wife who is a two-star general in the Chinese Army. Did the spirit of Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin decide to cross the Pacific Ocean since their ideas are apparently unwelcome in America? Having a strongly conservative female president of South Korea is going to have major effects in South Korea, even more so than a liberal female president would because lots of conservative men will grudgingly go along with her when they would fight a liberal woman, and I happen to think promoting women's rights in Asia is a good thing.
This is not an unmixed victory, however. As Twotone put it:
5 posted on Wed Dec 19 2012 13:08:08 GMT-0600 (Central Standard Time) by Twotone: “And having had a dictator for a father, it probably wasnt good training for her, or for the So. Koreans.”
Park Geun-hye’s father definitely did not have clean hands. He was an authoritarian ruler, and that is putting it gently. Some would call President Park Chung-hee a military dictator. Nobody on Free Republic would want any president of the United States, even in time of war, doing the things he did. Persecution, silencing, exile, torture, and even execution of his opponents may have been necessary — harsh measures are sometimes unavoidable under harsh conditions — but we would not and should not tolerate in America the tactics that President Park used to maintain control of his country.
I personally know some of the targets of President Park's wrath. These are not liberals by any definition of the word; these are conservative Korean Presbyterian church leaders who said the sorts of things that men like D. James Kennedy or Francis Schaeffer would say. President Park issued orders that effectively ended their ministry and forced them to emigrate to the United States. Let's just say President Park's Buddhism did not endear him to everyone in the Christian community in Korea, with which he had an ambiguous relationship. President Park was a conservative, he valued conservative Christians who supported the government and encouraged what Park considered to be good moral conduct and personal self-discipline, which are certainly important Buddhist and Confucian values as well as Christian values, but he had very little tolerance for any dissent against his policies. President Park typically silenced or exiled conservative Christians who objected to his policies rather than taking the stronger steps he used against liberals suspected of Communist or socialist sympathies, and for that, Christians in South Korea probably should be grateful.
However, we need to be very careful not to judge Korea by Western standards. President Park Chung-hee ruled as an authoritarian dictator who severely persecuted his opponents out of fear legitimate fear that the North Korean Communists would use any perception of governmental weakness to sow serious instability and perhaps overthrow his anti-Communist regime. On the other hand, he's significantly responsible for the development of South Korea into what it is today, and possibly even for its continued existence as a separate country.
What I don't know is how much Park Geun-hye has distanced herself from her father's policies and practices. Does she believe that her father's policies were needed at the time but no longer appropriate now that South Korea has developed into a modernized democratic state? That's certainly the image she wants to convey, and if that's what she really believes, I respect that position.
Or does she believe that ends justify the means, and economic development with a strong military and orderly society are the goal to be pursued regardless of what methods are used to accomplish that goal? If so, she doesn't have a commitment to popular rule and is an advocate of democracy only because she knows it works. That would make her no different from the Chinese rulers, whose goal is economic development, an orderly society, and military strength, and who view democracy as dangerous.
We have lots of questions but not a lot of answers.
The bottom line, however, is President Park's election was probably the best under the circumstances. She'll take a hard line against Communism and in favor of economic development and capitalism, and that is a good thing.
She has publicly apologized multiple times for the actions of her father.
While many politicians lie, not all politicians are liars. People really do change their minds — Reagan was once a Democrat, after all — and I think it's possible for an apology from a political leader to be sincere.
I wish things were as easy with Korean politics. The whole “saving face” thing is so important to Asia that I'm not sure anyone in the upper levels of business and politics can be assumed to mean what they say.
None of this is an attack on Park Geun-hye. The bottom line is that I believe Park Geun-hye was probably the best option under the circumstances. The alternatives were worse, and some tremendously worse.
I'm optimistic, but cautiously so.
Time will tell.
OK. I can agree with that.
Whether or not she is truly “her father’s daughter”, time will tell. But the North Koreans will certainly take notice...I think they will try to test her!
Agreed on both points.
Korean politics are brutal. I don't think Americans have any concept of what it takes for anyone to succeed in Korean political life, and it's much worse for a woman.
My guess is that the new President Park fully expects the North Koreans to test her, and if/when it happens, she will respond with “kimchi temper” to make clear she is not weak.
Those who know Koreans well are quite aware of what “kimchi temper” means, and they know that tiny, demure, and petite Korean women who look like and usually act like cute kittens are perfectly capable of turning into roaring tigers when provoked.
Obviously, North Korean men also know that from their own experience with their Korean wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters. Kimchi temper is not confined to the South. On the other hand, I think the rest of the world may get a very considerable shock when seeing how the new President Park responds to some sort of North Korean provocation.
Roll Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Margaret Thatcher, Phyllis Schlafly, and several other fiery female English-speaking politicians up into a ball, put the composite woman on steroids, and that might give an approximation of how we can expect the new President Park to respond to a deliberate provocation from North Korea. That nation is, after all, ruled by the grandson of the man who sent the North Korean commandos who killed her mother, who tried repeatedly to kill her father, and who may or may not have had a hand in the action by the head of the South Korean CIA who finally succeeded in killing her father.
Even apart from that, pondering the prospect of a newly elected 60-year-old female president of South Korea tolerating deliberate insults from a man half her age shows how little likelihood there is that the new President Park will put up with nonsense from north of the border.
While we might see some tolerance for a while from the Blue House (the South Korean presidential palace) -- after all, she will need some time to get her administration organized, and there is a certain cultural inclination to ignore mild insults on the ground that the person hurling insults is not worthy of a response -- a serious attack on South Korea cannot be tolerated even in the short term without running the risk of appearing weak. Longer term, I suspect the new President Park is already planning how to respond to the inevitable North Korean provocation, while at the same time trying to “engage” the North Koreans to show that she is not a warmonger and responded with anger only after making a legitimate effort to try to deal with the North Koreans in a reasonable manner.
Let's just say Koreans have long memories and are quite capable of using long knives when needed.