Hong Sook-ja

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Hong Sook-ja
Vice-consul of Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in New York, Hong Sook-ja.jpg
Personal details
Born (1933-06-25) June 25, 1933 (age 85)
Seoul, South Korea
  • Cheon Juhwa
    (m. 1958; div. 1965)
Children Cheon Inbeom
Education Dongguk University (BA)
Ewha Womans University (MA)
Boston University (MA)
Dongguk University (PhD)[1]
Hong Sook-ja
Hangul 홍숙자
Hanja 洪淑子
Revised Romanization Hong Suk-ja
McCune–Reischauer Hong Sukja

Hong Sook-ja (Hangul홍숙자; Hanja洪淑子) is a South Korean activist, politician and writer. She was appointed South Korea's first female diplomat and later became the first female presidential candidate to enter South Korea's first democratic elections in 1987.[1]

Early life[edit]

Hong was born in Seoul on June 25 of 1933. After her birth, Hong's mother was put under increasing pressure from family members to give birth to a son, which included offers to find her husband a concubine. Hong's younger brother was eventually born, but Hong recalls this as influencing her understanding of male and female inequality.[2]

She graduated at Dongguk University in 1955 and at Boston University in 1958, having studied political science and international affairs. She then worked for the Korean foreign ministry and became vice consul of the Korean Consulate in New York City in 1965.[1] She was professor at Dongguk University since 1979. From 1986 to 1988 she was president of the International Council of Women.[3]

Run as presidential candidate[edit]

On 11 November 1987, the Social Democratic Party held their 13th presidential election nomination provisional convention and elected Hong as their presidential candidate.[4] She was thus listed as the first female presidential candidate in the Republic of Korea's Constitution.[5]

On the day of her selection as the Social Democratic Party candidate, Hong gave a speech, saying that, "female presidents will create political miracles." She also promised to support direct elections, but promote the cabinet system.[4] Hong also said that she would encourage female ministers and promote bold policies for women's liberation.[6] However, Hong was side-lined by the other male candidates, receiving little media attention.[7] She bowed out of the presidential race on 5 December, explaining that she had never intended to become the Korean president. She was aware that the Social Democratic Party was not big and influential enough to make her president of South Korea, and she also acknowledged that it would not be possible for her to be elected president insofar as Korea was still a male-dominated society. Hong threw her support behind candidate Kim Young-sam, speaking at a rally, "the foremost task we are facing now is to terminate the military dictatorship. To that end, I decided to support the leading candidate, disregarding my ideological differences with him."[8] However, Kim Young-sam lost to the general Roh Tae-woo.

Selected works[edit]

  • Hong Sook-ja, Toward the High Place (Hangul저 높은 곳을 향하여; HanjaJeo nopeun goseul hyanghayeo), (Seoul: Yeobaek Media, 2006). ISBN 8958660236.


  1. ^ a b c Kim, Younghwa. "Hong Suk Ja: Pursuing Women's Rights in South Korea". Retrieved 22 November 2016. 
  2. ^ Jameson, Sam (27 November 1987). "Korean Candidate Battles a Male-Dominated Society". Retrieved 22 November 2016. 
  3. ^ Kim Wonhong: A study on the voting behavior of Korean Women after independence. 2001.
  4. ^ a b 社民黨 대통령 후보 洪淑子씨 선출, 《동아일보》, 1987년 11월 11일
  5. ^ [박근혜 시대] 朴, 최초의 '여성·부녀·독신' 대통령… 3번째 TK 출신, 《뉴스1》, 2012년 12월 19일
  6. ^ 洪淑子씨 候補로 추대 社民黨 임시全黨大會, 《경향신문》, 1987년 11월 11일
  7. ^ 社民 洪淑子 후보 사퇴, 《동아일보》, 1987년 12월 5일
  8. ^ Holley, David (6 December 1987). "Kim Young Sam Gets Backing of Only Woman in Korea Race". Retrieved 24 November 2016.