Park Geun-hye of the ruling Saenuri Party won South Korea’s presidential election held on December 19, 2012. She is the daughter of the former military dictator The win over her Centre-Left rival Moon Jae-in paved the way for Park Geun-hye becoming the country’s first female head of state. The win also marked her return to the presidential palace where she had served as her father’s first lady in the 1970s, after her mother was assassinated by North Korea-backed gunman.
It was one of the most keenly contested elections in recent South Korean history. The voters turnout had reached 75 percent as against the 63 percent in the 2007 election. Park won with 51 percent of the vote. She had appealed to the voters to bring in gender equally by electing the country’s first woman president. South Korea is ranked 108 out of 135 countries by the World Economic Forum in terms of gender equality.
Park is the daughter of the former military dictator Park Chung-hee, one of modern Korea’s most polarizing figures. The late leader is both admired for dragging the country out of poverty and reviled for his ruthless suppression of dissent during 18 years of autocratic rule.
The new president’s major challenge s includes a unintelligent North Korea, a slowing economy and soaring welfare costs in one of the world’s most rapidly age-ing societies. Park has promised strong leadership that would steer the country through the challenges of global economic troubles.