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South Korea election: Daughter of dictator elected country’s first female president

South Korea election

KIM HONG-JI/REUTERS Park Geun-hye waves to her supporters as she arrives at the headquarters of the ruling Saenuri party in Seoul on Wednesday.

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA—Ruling-party candidate Park Geun-hye was elected South Korean president Wednesday, becoming the country’s first female leader despite the incumbent’s unpopularity and her own past as the daughter of a divisive dictator.

Dictator’s daughter faces refugees’ son

The victory sets up the possibility of greater engagement with rival North Korea, despite a controversial rocket launch by Pyongyang last week.

Who is Park Geun-hye?

After liberal candidate Moon Jae-in (Moon Jay-in) conceded victory in a close race, Park said she will become “a president of promise.”

Huge crowds lined up throughout the day, braving frigid weather to choose between Park and Moon, the son of North Korean refugees. Both candidates steered away from outgoing President Lee Myung-bak’s (lee myuhng bahk) policies, including, most strikingly, his hard-line stance on North Korea.

Turnout was the highest in 15 years, and some analysts thought that might lift Moon, who is more popular with younger voters. Despite moving to the centre, however, Park was carried by her conservative base of mainly older voters who remember with fondness what they see as the firm economic and security guidance of her dictator father, the late President Park Chung-hee.

Park will become the first woman to lead a country that still struggles with widespread sexism, and analysts said her victory would partly erase the bias that women can’t thrive in South Korea’s tough political world.

Park says she is open to dialogue with North Korea but calls on Pyongyang to show progress in nuclear dismantlement for better relations with Seoul.

Ties between the Koreas plummeted during Lee’s term. Many voters blame the tension over the last five years for encouraging North Korea to conduct nuclear and missile tests — including a rocket launch by Pyongyang that outsiders call a cover for a banned long-range missile test. Some also say ragged North-South relations led to two attacks blamed on Pyongyang that killed 50 South Koreans in 2010.

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA—Conservative Park Geun-hye (Bahk Guhn-hae) has become South Korea’s first female president.

Dictator’s daughter faces refugees’ son

The liberal Moon Jae-in (Moon Jay-in) conceded late Wednesday to the daughter of late dictator Park Chung-hee after a close race.

Her victory came despite analysts’ speculation that high voter turnout could favour Moon. Moon is the son of North Korean refugees and a former human rights lawyer.

Park says she’s open to dialogue with North Korea but calls on Pyongyang to show progress in nuclear dismantlement.

The five-term lawmaker drew support from a conservative base of older voters with fond memories of South Korea’s rise from poverty during her father’s 18-year rule.

She’ll replace conservative President Lee Myung-bak (Lee Myuhng bahk) in February.

thestar.com – Federal Election

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