News / Asia

    South Korea Elects First Female President

    South Korea's presidential candidate Park Geun-hye of the ruling Saenuri Party waves to her supporters upon her arrival to cast her ballot for the presidential election at a polling station in Seoul, December 19, 2012.
    South Korea's presidential candidate Park Geun-hye of the ruling Saenuri Party waves to her supporters upon her arrival to cast her ballot for the presidential election at a polling station in Seoul, December 19, 2012.
    Conservative Saenuri [New Frontier] Party candidate Park Geun-hye has made history by winning South Korea's presidential election, becoming the country's first female president-elect after defeating liberal rival Moon Jae-in of the Democratic United Party by several percentage points.
     
    Interacting briefly with several media representatives on a large open-air stage in downtown Seoul, the five-term lawmaker and daughter of a former dictator vowed to fulfill every promise she made during the campaign.
     
    By keeping everyone's support and trust in mind, Park said she "will definitely open an era of peoples' happiness in which everyone can enjoy some simple pleasures and their dreams can come true."

    Park Geun-hye

    • Daughter of late South Korean dictator Park Chung-hee
    • Member of President Lee Myung-bak's ruling conservative New Frontier Party
    • Would be first female president in South Korea's history
    • Holds slight lead in latest opinion polls
    • 60 years old
    After being handed a bouquet of flowers, Park left the stage to the cheers of her supporters. She gave no formal victory speech.
     
    At a subdued Democratic United Party headquarters in another part of the capital, Moon Jae-in conceded. Apologizing to supporters, he called the defeat his failure, "not a failure of the people who hoped for new politics," and then offered his congratulations to the new president-elect.
     
    Turnout 76 percent voter turnout was considered high, surpassing the two previous presidential elections despite sub-freezing temperatures across the country.

    Voters, bundled in their thickest winter clothing and stomping their feet to stay warm, waited in long lines to get into polling stations.
    Story continues below photo gallery
    • South Korea's president-elect Park Geun-hye, center, poses with an official certificate stating her election victory, Seoul, December 20, 2012.
    • South Korea's president-elect Park Geun-hye bows in front of the grave of her father Park Chung-hee, the country's former dictator, at the National Cemetery in Seoul, December 20, 2012.
    • Park Geun-hye of the ruling Saenuri Party waves to her supporters near the party's head office in Seoul, December 19, 2012.
    • Supporters of Park Geun-hye cheer near her Saenuri Party's head office in Seoul, December 19, 2012.
    • South Korean opposition Democratic United Party's presidential candidate Moon Jae-in, second from left, shakes hands with supporters after he cast his ballot in the presidential election in Seoul, December 19, 2012.
    • Members of opposition Democratic United Party watch TV news reporting exit polls on their presidential candidate Moon Jae-in in South Korea's presidential elections, Seoul, December 19, 2012.
    • A South Korean woman with her son, tries to come out from a booth at a polling station in Seoul, December 19, 2012.
    • South Korean National Election Commission officials sort out ballots cast in the presidential election as they begin the counting process in Seoul, December 19, 2012.

    After the results were known, a jubilant Park supporter, 56-year-old company employee Choi Duk-soon, said she is elated by the historic victory.
     
    Choi says she is "thrilled to have the country's first female president who can heal conflicts due to regional and class differences."
     
    The incumbent, President Lee Myung-bak of the Saenuri Party, was limited to a single five-year term. He was elected in 2007, narrowly defeating Park in a party primary race.
     
    For Park, who is 60 and is scheduled to take office February 25, it will actually be the second time residing in the presidential Blue House. She lived there in the 1970's, serving as the country's acting first lady after her mother was assassinated by a North Korea-backed gunman.
     
    The ever-present threat from Pyonyang will be only one of the daunting challenges she faces; Park is faced with widening income disparity amid a slowing economy, soaring welfare costs for an aging, and a rekindling territorial dispute with Japan.
     
    During the campaign, Moon, who served as chief of staff to former president Roh Moo-hyun, said he would want to hold a summit meeting with North Korea in the first year of his presidency. Park declared no such meeting could take place unless Pyongyang apologizes for military provocation it has launched in recent years.
     
    Park's father led a 1961 coup and stayed in power until he was assassinated in 1979 by the chief of his intelligence agency.
     
    Park’s campaign said the first item on her schedule the morning after the election would be to pay her respects at the national cemetery where her parents are buried.
     
    Youmi Kim in VOA's Seoul bureau contributed to this report.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    
    by: Tommy from: TwoShoes
    December 19, 2012 1:12 PM
    Is no one concerned that her mom and most likely her dad was assassinated by north korea?
    In Response

    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    December 20, 2012 7:24 PM
    To callmekom. Do you mind if ask you who do you mean a president who is not a president?
    In Response

    by: callmekom from: S.Korea
    December 20, 2012 6:02 AM
    No, they were assassinated by South
    You'll never know how it feels to be in a country with a president
    who is not a president!(Park's father did things that can never be
    forgtten about)
    They were killed for good

    by: Michael from: Helsing
    December 19, 2012 1:01 PM
    Sad, indeed. Where are the men? Sad thing to see such decay that a worthy man can't be found to lead.

    by: gon from: south Korea
    December 19, 2012 10:50 AM
    I'm deeply ashamed of her who became a 18th president in this country. I'm at a loss for words. we have had to suffer from a corrupt president Lee for the past 5 years ,and now we have to endure this next president who is the dictator's daughter. Don't tease this country. Half of this country people never support her.
    ah~what a pity country! tonight all bar is filled with people who is stunned by this unbelievable outcome. I feel this silent winter is colder and crueller than before.
    once again! Of the people For the people By the people.
    Don't be so sad my brothers in this country! I can't help stoping to cry. sorry,my peninsula!
    In Response

    by: John Kim from: Yorba Linda
    December 24, 2012 9:55 PM
    I share your grief my friend
    In Response

    by: Kramer from: Phoenix
    December 20, 2012 8:24 PM
    or Gon from South Korea, either you support and be happy or jump off the bridge!!
    In Response

    by: Kramer from: Phoenix
    December 20, 2012 8:21 PM
    Hey Gon from South Korea...u sound depressed....She is now the nation's president. You ought to support her for the country...trust me. Be positive. She will do well and won't let you down. No matter what happened in the past, we need to move on and reach out to support. Congrats Park Geun-hye!!
    In Response

    by: Kom from: S.Korea
    December 20, 2012 6:08 AM
    Hey, I agree with the Lee part, but just because her father was a dictator who did thhings that can never be forgiven, doesn't mean
    that she is not a good president. If you hate her so much, why don't you go out there and change our country?
    In Response

    by: faith from: Paris
    December 20, 2012 1:37 AM
    I agee with you.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    December 19, 2012 9:44 PM
    I'm completely on the same page with 'sang'. I wanna say to you, gon, before you deplore the present situation, how about learning korea's history again, at least the part of her father's era? The word 'progressive' has quite a positive meaning 'in a dictionary' but in korea, I think, its meaning has changed in a disguised way to promote North Korea's ideology. Im kinda suspicious of mindset of people like you, gon.
    In Response

    by: Happy from: California
    December 19, 2012 2:43 PM
    I grew up in the late sixties and seventies in Korea where progressively, the country changed its landscape from poor to emerging economy. People were so poor, that as part of the "movement," we brought in bags of rice to school to help other students who would otherwise have skipped lunch meals. Altruism abounded, and a sense of community, good neighborly deeds were part of our daily lives. In short, people's lives were more balanced, and everyone pulled each other up. All this because of late President Park's strong leadership. Hard times required hard measures, and he was the man to accomplish all the things, on which foundation the country now sits. Now, the gap between the rich and the poor is ever widening in Korea.

    The balance needs to be restored. I am hopeful that Ms. Park will bring forth some of the principles that her father adopted in restoring people's wilted spirits. "Some" not all, as times have changed and she will face many new challenges. To "Gon" from South Korea: I pity you that you never got to live in a society where measured progress enriched public's lives, and the country as a whole became stronger because of it. To those who consider late President Park a dictator: You've been brainwashed.
    In Response

    by: Straight Sword from: California, US
    December 19, 2012 1:23 PM
    Such a narrow-minded and arrogant self-conceited Arseh--e with a lousy mouth as YOU have been obstacle to progress positivelly ahead for more than 500 years. The founder of Yi dynasty seized power by coup de'tat. She is NOT dictator's daughter. Her father was who founded today's economically-powered Korea and far from corruption. So many people died of hungry in springs every year in 1950s,60s. He ended it by supporting poor and farming people by 'Sae-Ma-Ul movement'. After his death, his political enemies became presidents one after another and showed how corrupted-to-the-core pigs they were! Korea was lucky to have general Park Chung-Hee, indeed! Hopefully, she would show the people her father's virtues caring people really and no corruption. Spread this to your neighbors & friends. Have positive thinking way. Arseh--e!
    In Response

    by: s from: U.S.
    December 19, 2012 1:10 PM
    stfu. likes of you know nothing about the economic development president Lee has achieved. If you like to measure the corruption, still it's way lower than what former-president Loh and Kim has contributed to the North Korea's nuclear creation aid.
    In Response

    by: Sang from: Korea
    December 19, 2012 12:45 PM
    Well, if you are ashamed, why don't you pack your bag and go up North. One thing people tend to ignore during the election is the fact her father - former president - led the economic growth in 60-70s. He was in powers for close to 20 years yet if it wasn't for him, South Korea is still living like a third world country. So stop whinning and know your history before start going on and on about how depress your life is... Unless, you are ok to forfeit what you have enjoyed in your life... grow up...

    by: charlie from: california
    December 19, 2012 10:32 AM
    Now S. Koreas as well as the north are allowing families with strings to power create dynasties behind the trappings of a republic. Monarchy is apparently in our DNA, But I prefer the European version not the Papa Doc version. Yes it's about women but then Cleopatra was a woman in 50 BC.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    December 19, 2012 2:56 PM
    This is to John, not Charlie...

    "It's too bad that the world has learned its political lessons from the US .Power and $$$ drive everything in America"

    You're acting like this is somehow an American-only phenomenon. Practically every ruler and/or ruling class throughout human history was driven by power and money. Not sure what you're getting at here.
    In Response

    by: john from: California
    December 19, 2012 12:04 PM
    It's too bad that the world has learned its political lessons from the US .Power and $$$ drive everything in America
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora