12.20.2012

Park Geun-hye, you have my attention


Yes, ma'am, you most certainly do!

Yesterday, South Korea made history by electing its first female president, Park Geun-hye.  Before we proceed let me give you some fun facts about this woman: she's an Atheist and she's single, as in never having married (she's 60 years old, by the way).

Her father, Park Chung-hee, was president of South Korean between 1963 and 1979.  When her mother, Yuk Young-soo, was assassinated in 1974, Guen-hye served as First Lady until her father was assassinated in 1979.

Apparently, this didn't scare her from becoming a politician herself in 1998.  She's served as assemblywoman in the Grand National Party (yes, she's a conservative), as their chairwoman, where her political feats earned her the nickname "Queen of Elections".  Though she attempted to become president in 2008, she lost the nomination.  By December of 2011, she was head of the GNP, but since their approval rating was plummeting (sound familiar?), they became the Saenuri Party ("New Frontier Party") in February, 2012.

Because her father committed a coup to become president, President-Elect Park is often criticized as the "daughter of a dictator", a "Notebook Princess" (referencing her privileged childhood), and "Ice Princess" (apparently she's a Vulcan).  She's also been criticized for being a bit out of touch; during a presidential debate, she didn't know the minimum wage rate.  And she's been accused of flip-flopping over an issue.

From the Washington Post:
...Although North Korea policy figured little in the three-week campaign period here, with voters concerned above all with economic issues, Pyongyang represents Park’s greatest challenge, political analysts said Thursday.

Park has said she will try to find a middle ground between the two much-criticized approaches of previous presidents — Roh Moo-hyun, who showered North Korea with unconditional aid, and the outgoing Lee Myung-bak, who treated the North as an adversary.

Pyongyang managed to exploit both approaches, continuing with its weapons program — and conducting its first nuclear test — during a long period of South-led engagement, and later turning more violent, launching two fatal attacks on the South, when that engagement was yanked away.

Park has stressed that she will use “robust deterrence” to counter the North Korean military threat. But she says she is also open to meeting with 29-year-old North Korean leader Kim Jong Eun, “if it helps in moving forward North-South relations.”

Such inter-Korean political meetings, even among lower-level officials, never happened under Lee, according to statistics from South Korea’s Ministry of Unification. But there were 35 such meetings in the five years under Roh.

In Washington, the North is often described as a near-impossible diplomatic target. But in the South, the stakes of division are more personal. Elderly families divided by the Korean War no longer have reunions sponsored jointly by the two governments; they can’t even send mail to one another.

Park’s mother was assassinated 38 years ago in a North Korean-led attack that missed its real target, Park’s father — then-president Park Chung-hee.

“National partition is a sorrow that touches all Koreans,” Park said in a speech before the election, “but for me it is brought to the fore by unimaginable personal suffering.”

...But for the South to provide anything more significant, Park says, the North must begin to dismantle its nuclear weapons — something it has vowed will never happen. In the official seven-page document where Park lays out her North Korea strategy, which she calls “Trustpolitik,” she says she is open to helping the North build up its roadways and its electricity infrastructure. She also mentions the possibility of cooperating in special economic zones and helping the North attract foreign investment. But all this is “pursuant to progress in denuclearization,” the document says.

...ce Park’s victory, North Korea’s state news agency has said nothing about the incoming leader. But before the election, the North described Park’s conservative party as “confrontation maniacs.”

“Furthermore,” the North said, “Park’s logic of ‘scrapping nuclear program first’ is not different from Lee Myung Bak’s [policy], but just an extension of it.”
I'll be honest; I don't know too much about this woman, but I'll be watching her career. She fascinates me to no end.

12 comments:

  1. I've heard her being referred to as the dictator's daughter, but apparently her party also set back rights for women in S. Korea a couple of years. On tumblr someone described her as a Korean equivalent of Sarah Palin, it was then that my short-lived interest in Park Geun Hye died.

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    Replies
    1. Leo Princess12/20/12, 7:09 PM

      " On tumblr someone described her as a Korean equivalent of Sarah Palin,"

      Ouch!

      Delete
    2. My interest in her is more personal and less political. She's the kind of woman overly dramatic romance novels are written about. I could see a dramatic soap opera written about her a la "The Tudors".

      And keep in mind, I'm in America. If an unmarried, 60-year-old female Atheist tried to run for President here...*dies laughing*

      Delete
    3. "And keep in mind, I'm in America. If an unmarried, 60-year-old female Atheist tried to run for President here...*dies laughing*"

      I hear ya on that one. LOL

      Delete
  2. Going by what some Koreans have been saying on the net they are unhappy with the results, apparently they don't like this woman although they had an 80% voter turn out. She worked under her fathers regime who was a nasty dictator. She is a legacy politician like the Bushes and according to some controlled like a puppet with Saenuri Party behind the scenes. She is ultra conservative but when they say conservative parties in Korea it might mean something different than what it is in the West???

    I think there were 7 candidates 3-4 of which were women running including Park. From what was said the older generation voted for her because of going by what her father did for the economy (Because South Korea is going through economic troubles like everyone else) but forgetting the human right violations he did to his people , but most voted for her because she was a woman or thought the other candidates were communist.

    I also read about her being compared to Sarah Palin to the Korean Margaret Thatcher. So it might not be a good thing for South Korea.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She is ultra conservative but when they say conservative parties in Korea it might mean something different than what it is in the West???

      I'll say!!! Atheist, female, and unmarried???

      I also read about her being compared to Sarah Palin to the Korean Margaret Thatcher. So it might not be a good thing for South Korea.

      This woman lost both parents to assassination and gained nearly unchallenged control of a party (like daughter, like father maybe?). That is no Sarah Palin. Palin quit her job simply because she felt she was being criticized too much.

      Delete
    2. Leo Princess12/20/12, 10:29 PM

      "From what was said the older generation voted for her because of going by what her father did for the economy (Because South Korea is going through economic troubles like everyone else) but forgetting the human right violations he did to his people"

      Much like the Chileans regarding Augusto Pinochet. Hmmm. Time will tell as to whether Park will be remembered fondly or hatefully. Either way, she's officially down in history as South Korea's first female President.

      Delete
    3. Either way, she's officially down in history as South Korea's first female President.

      LOL, I know, right? Can't unring that bell!!!

      Delete
    4. @ Leo Princess,

      Nope not good to be compared to that. Far as Sarah conservative or non conservative, I wouldn't want to be compared to a dummy.

      Delete
    5. Leo Princess12/21/12, 12:47 PM

      @M - Which is why I said 'OUCH!' in my first comment. NGL, I'd be bawling into my pillow for days if anyone ever said I reminded them of Palin. I'm talking drowning-my-sorrows, revaluating my entire life, the works!

      Delete
  3. I have mixed feelings about Park.

    Park has made history as being the first female of South Korea. From the outside, that would be a good thing'but I've read some not so great things about her as well such as sharing some views from North Korea. If this is true along what the others have said about her,thats not good. South Korea is trying to be seen as a moderate country and the last thing they need is that.

    I share Meanies views in hoping that conservative there will equate to something else to the west. I'm hoping that Park will be different from her dad.

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  4. Park certainly has a compelling biography, although I'm not quite sure that her victory can be thought of as ushering in a renaissance for women in Korea. Rather, my sense is that her pedigree and biography served to mitigate the fact that she is 60 years old, unmarried, atheist, and a woman. In other words, and I hate to sell Koreans short on this, I think that her background enabled her to be elected DESPITE being all of the above. I’m doubtful that a woman similar to Park, but lacking the family name, could have risen to such heights in Korea (as it is currently constituted).

    I also wouldn't characterize Park as Palinsque, though. She's certainly no dummy, and was obviously savvy enough to position herself to be elected to the highest office in the land. However, the woman has led an extremely cloistered and privileged life, and my sense is that she has some…empathy shortcomings? So in that sense, perhaps she’s more like Mitt Romney in that her privilege has created certain blindspots and caused her rhetoric to be a bit tone-deaf . I’m an outsider, so I try not to judge things too harshly because I’m well aware that my perspective is grounded in an American political rubric. However, my warning bells are set off when person who’s campaigning to be the head of a fledgling industrialized democracy cites a 16th century British monarch as their role model . That just seems like one of those thoughts that you’d keep to yourself, even if you sincerely imagined it to be true.

    Most of my Korean friends—20/30something, professional, urban—absolutely loathe the GNP and what Park represents. My outsider understanding is that middle-class Koreans strongly believe that there exists a two-tiered system—a set of rules for the affluent, and a set for everyone else. They’re weary of government corruption, they want the power, influence, and crony-capitalism of the chaebol reigned in, and they want greater investment in the social safety net. Anecdotal conversations that I’ve had with Koreans suggest that a lot of folks are also ready to embrace a softened stance on North Korea. I doubt Park will significantly deliver on any of those fronts. With that said, I don’t think Park will prove any worse than her universally loathed GNP predecessor, Lee Myung Bak.

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