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Park Geun-hye has been elected as South Korea’s 18th President on December 19. Park is the first-ever female president in the nation.
Park garnered roughly 15.77 million votes, or 51.6 percent of ballots cast. She triumphed by a margin of 1.1 million votes over the main opposition Democratic United Party candidate Moon Jae-in, who finished the race with 14.69 million votes, or 48 percent of ballots cast. Vote counting was completed around 5:20 a.m. Thursday.
People were expected that if over 70 percent of the population took part in the election, it would give an advantage to Moon. However, though 75.8 percent of people participated, Park still won. Wednesday’s election was the first in which the successful candidate won at least 50 percent of the vote, since 1987 when a direct presidential election system was introduced.
Experts said the main factor that brought triumph to Park was people’s concern about Korea’s unstable economy and defense situation. The former president Roh Moo-hyun’s administration was viewed by many in Korea as weakening Korea’s economy and national defense, and since candidate Moon had worked and shared most of views with Roh, lots of people were doubting Moon’s ability to lead the nation, making conservative people inclined to vote for Park.
Park beat Moon in 13 out of 17 metropolitan cities and provinces, excluding Seoul, Gwangju and the two Jeolla provinces.
After hearing the news of her victory, Park said at Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul that she will lead a happy era for Korean people.
As the first female president, a lot of Korean people expect Park to bring positive changes to their country- in which women are notoriously invisible at the top echelons of public and private sectors alike.
In South Korea, which is Asia’s fourth-biggest economy, women account for only 15 percent of the country’s parliament seats and secure two seats at the 11-member cabinet. They are equally less visible at the top of private sectors, and that is mostly because of the country’s Confucious and male-dominated culture.
Mirroring this, Park’s party has promoted her as “the prepared female president,” and this slogan was punctuated in every single of her campaign posters and speeches.
Park, who was born in 1952, majored in electronic engineering at Sogang University in Seoul. She started her political career when she was 22-years-old, when she lost her mother to assassins, acting as the first lady of the house and helping her father, the late military strongman Park Chung-Hee. After her father was also assassinated when she was 27, she left the Blue House, the South Korean equivalent of the White House. However, in 1997, she announced that she would come back as a politician to contribute to Korea, which has been suffering from the impact of the Asian economic crisis. Since then, she has been worshiped by conservative voters.
Her first run for the presidency was in 2007. However, current president Lee Myung-bak was able to defeat her.