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.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.
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.”