South Korea elects first woman president

Written by: 
Clover Cheng~Multimedia Journalist and AP

Park Geun Hye, the daughter of South Korea's former dictator Park Chung Hee, has made history as the country's first woman president.

Jin Kyung Seo, a TESOL senior from South Korea said, “Having a female president is a big issue in South Korea. As a woman to participant in the presidential election, everybody worried about her. Her father was a great president, so she carried a lot of expectation and pressure [from the public].”

Sworn in on Feb. 25 as president, Park was expected to improve the status of women in a society that is dominated by men. Park chose two women to join her in top positions in her Cabinet.

Besides the expectation to regulate the pervasive sexism, Park also faces the expectation to bloom the country’s economy and to solve the conflict with North Korea, which conducted three nuclear tests on Feb. 12.

In her inauguration speech, Park mentioned the North Korea nuclear tests calling them "a challenge to the survival and future of the Korean people" and said Pyongyang (capital of North Korea) should abandon its nuclear ambitions and work for peace.

The 60-year-old Park holds an engineering degree from Sogang University in Seoul. She was first elected to South Korea's National Assembly in 1998 and started to seek the presidency in 2007. She is not married and is seen as a private individual. Park became South Korea's first lady at the age of 22 when her mother was shot in 1974, according to a BBC news article entitled “Profile: South Korean President Park Geun-hye.”

Jae Jin Jeong, an accounting senior from South Korea, said he isn’t concerned about the gender of the president. “Their compassion and willingness to improve the country are more important,” said Jeong.