Former Dictator's Daughter Elected As President of South Korea

On December 19, 2012, Park Geun-hye was elected as the next President of South Korea. She is from the ruling conservative Saenuri party and daughter of the former dictator Park Chung-hee.

Despite Park's feat in being elected as the first woman president in a largely patriarchal society, young progressives and activists are strongly opposed to Park, because for her party's reputation of being corrupt and her vague and unapologetic attitude to her father’s dictatorship. Park's father, Park Chung-hee is one of the most polarizing figures in South Korea's modern history –  for his authoritarian rule and for the massive economic development that took place under him.

The tight race and the nation's sharp divide over issues and party affiliations show the status of the country's political landscape. Indeed, the race was extremely tight and too close to call even after several hours the exit poll result was released.

Park Geun-hye during campaign

Park Geun-hye during campaign, Upload by Flickr User 박근혜 공식앨범 (CC 2.0 BY-NC-SA)

Many net users blamed the South Korean mainstream media for siding with Park for several months; and especially in their campaign coverages which rarely brought up historical issues. They pointed out [ko] that international reports always mentioned Park's father when introducing her.  ‏@comeback_mj23 wrote [ko]:

잠들기 전에 우리나라 대선에 관한 외신(BBC, CNN, NYT 등..) 기사를 훑어보고 있는데… 공통적으로 쓰이는 한 문장이 너무 선명하게 보인다. 굳이 언급할 필요가 없는 바로 그 문장… 과연 그 분이 스스로 굴레를 벗어던질 수 있을까?

Before going to bed, I browsed over how other foreign media have covered and read their headlines on our presidential election (such as BBC, CNN, NYT and etc). I just cannot un-notice that one phrase these reports share in common. That one sentence that is so obvious to address. Would she be able to throw off that title? [note:referring that Park is the daughter of the dictator]

@aannyeong wrote [ko] about Lee Jung-hee, a woman contenter who shattered Park during the presidential debate in almost every issue, but soon dropped out of the race.

[…] 이정희는 여태 한국 사회와 언론이 썩혀두면서 아무도 건드릴 생각도 못했던 걸 들춰냈다. 심지어 당사자 앞에서. 더군다나 공중파 대선토론에서. 그걸 보고 듣고도 사람들이 깨달음이 없었다는 게 슬프다.

Lee Jung-hee was able to dig up something that the Korean society and the media never even dare to touch– on air in a presidential debate on Network TV. It is so sad that people dont realize the truth even after watching that debate.

@kbsmuckraker added [ko]:

사실 이번 대선결과는 예정된 것이었다. 지상파와 조중동 등 여론시장을 지배하는 주류매체가 일방적으로 박근혜를 지원하는 상황에서 다른 결과를 이끌어내긴 힘들었다. 이런 수구 권언복합구도를 깨지 않으면 앞으로도 어렵다.

This presidential election outcome was an expected one. In a situation the Network TVs and Cho-Joong-Dong [note: a popular acronym for three major newspaper in South Korea- a combination of Chosun, Joongang and Donga] dominating the public discussion and single-handedly supporting Park, it was so hard to churn out a different outcome. If we cannot end this conservative power-media tie, we will continue to face a tough situation in the future.

@stpstp919 mentioned [ko] a tweet sharing how several families in three Asian countries keep their grips on power for generations.

유미리 트위터 “한국대선에서 박근혜가 승리하면,박정희 대통령의 딸과 김일성주석의 손자와 기시 노부스케 총리의 손자가 맞서게 된다.”

Yumiri’s tweet says “If Park won the South Korean presidential election, we will see Park Chung-hee’s daughter encountering with the grandson of Kim Il-sung (in North Korea) and grandson of Nobusuke Kishi (referring to Shinzo Abe) in the (international affairs) stage.

Moon Jae-In during campaign

Moon Jae-in, the presidential candidate of the main opposition Democratic United Party, during campaign, Upload by Flickr User moonjaein (CC 2.0 BY-NC-ND)

This election made a record number of voter turnout, 75.8% [ko], which is the highest in a decade. @realolol commented about [ko] this aspect:

한 사이트에서 봤던 인상 깊은 글. “이번 투표율이 높았던건 그만큼 국민들이 깨어 있다는 걸 의미하지만 단기간에 그렇게 올랐다는건 지난 대선과 이번 대선간의 빈 공백의 기간동안 국민들이 불만이 많았거나 살기 어려웠단걸 뜻하지”

I’ve read this impressive post on one site “The fact that this election’s voter turnout was so high is an indication that people are aware of politics. However, at the same time, the fact that the rate made such a sharp increase, shows that people had so many complaints built up and have had rough years between the last and current presidential election.


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