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Greg Rodgers

South Korea Elects First Female President

By December 20, 2012

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In a historic and controversial election on Wednesday, much like the ones Americans have come to know far too well, South Koreans elected Park Geun-hye as their first female president.

Park is the daughter of Park Chung-hee, the president of South Korea who served between 1963 and 1979. Despite being accused of many human rights violations and naming himself president for life, her father is still praised by many for rebuilding South Korea after the Korean War. Park Chung-hee ruled for 18 years before he was assassinated in 1979.

The most pressing issue of the 2012 South Korean presidential election was how to deal with the growing threat of North Korea.

The new president's liberal opponent, Moon Jae-in, favored a friendlier approach to North Korea, even offering them aid as a way to extend the olive branch. On the other hand, Park Geun-hye plans to follow the former President of South Korea's approach of withholding large-scale aid until the north's nuclear weapons program is ended.

Park Geun-hye won 51.55% of votes as the conservative candidate, while Moon Jae-in received 48.02% of the votes. Park replaces the 71-year-old Lee Myung-bak who finishes a five-year term as president.

Only an estimated 3% of senior government offices in South Korea are held by women.

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