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Park Geun-hye

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This is a Korean name; the family name is Park.
Park Geun-hye
Park Geun-hye (8724400493) (cropped).jpg
11th President of South Korea
Assumed office
25 February 2013
Prime Minister Chung Hong-won
Lee Wan-koo
Choi Kyoung-hwan (Acting)
Hwang Kyo-ahn
Preceded by Lee Myung-bak
Leader of the Saenuri Party
In office
17 December 2011 – 15 May 2012
Preceded by Hong Jun-pyo
Succeeded by Hwang Woo-yea
In office
23 March 2004 – 10 July 2006
Preceded by Choe Byeong-ryeol
Succeeded by Kang Jae-sup
Member of the National Assembly
In office
30 May 2012 – 10 December 2012
Constituency Proportional Representation
In office
3 April 1998 – 29 May 2012
Preceded by Kim Suk-won
Succeeded by Lee Jong-jin
Constituency Dalseong (Daegu)
First Lady of South Korea
In office
16 August 1974 – 26 October 1979
President Park Chung-hee
Preceded by Yuk Young-soo
Succeeded by Hong Gi
Personal details
Born (1952-02-02) 2 February 1952 (age 64)
Daegu, South Korea
Political party Saenuri Party
Residence Blue House
Alma mater Sogang University
Korean name
Hanja 槿
Revised Romanization Bak Geun(-)hye
McCune–Reischauer Pak Kŭnhye

Park Geun-hye (박근혜, Korean pronunciation: [pak.k͈ɯnh(j)e]; born 2 February 1952) is the eleventh and current President of South Korea. She is the first woman to be elected as President in South Korea and is serving the 18th presidential term. She also is the first female head of state in the history of Korea and first female president of an East Asian nation,[citation needed] and is the first South Korean president to have been born a South Korean citizen.[1] Prior to her presidency, she was the chairwoman of the conservative Grand National Party (GNP) between 2004 and 2006 and between 2011 and 2012 (the GNP changed its name to the "Saenuri Party" in February 2012). Park was also a member of the Korean National Assembly and served four complete consecutive parliamentary terms as a constituency representative between 1998 and 2012; she started her fifth term as a proportional representative in June 2012. Her father was Park Chung-hee, President of South Korea from 1962 to 1979.

In 2013 and 2014, Park was named the world's 11th most powerful woman and the most powerful woman in East Asia by Forbes magazine's list of The World's 100 Most Powerful Women.[2] In 2014, She was named the world's 46th most powerful person by Forbes magazine's List of The World's Most Powerful People, the third highest South Korean on the list, after Lee Kun-hee and Lee Jae-yong.

Early life and education[edit]

Park was born on 2 February 1952, in Samdeok-dong of Jung-gu, Taegu, as the first child of Park Chung-hee, the 3rd president of South Korea who served between 1963 and 1979, and Yuk Young-soo. She has a younger brother, Park Ji-man, and a younger sister, Park Geun-ryeong.[3] Park has never been married.

In 1953, Park's family moved to Seoul and she graduated from Seoul's Jangchung Elementary School and Sungshim (literal: Sacred Heart) Girls' Middle & High School in 1970, going on to receive a bachelor's degree in electronic engineering from Sogang University in 1974. She briefly studied at the University of Grenoble, but left France following the assassination of her mother.

Park's mother was assassinated in the National Theater of Korea, Seoul, by Mun Se-gwang, a Japanese-born Korean, a sympathizer of North Korea, and a member of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, on 15 August 1974.[4] Park was regarded as first lady until 1979 when her father was also assassinated–by his own intelligence chief, Kim Jae-gyu–on 26 October 1979.[5][6] During this time, activists who were political opponents of her father, claimed to be subject to arbitrary detention. Further, human rights were considered subordinate to economic development.[7] In 2007, Park expressed regret at the treatment of activists during this period.[8]

Park received honorary doctoral degrees from the Chinese Culture University, in Taiwan in 1987; Pukyong National University and KAIST in 2008; and Sogang University in 2010.

Multiple news sources, including the Korea Times and the American Council on Foreign Relations, reported that Park considers herself atheist, but is also influenced by Buddhism and Catholicism.



Park was elected a Grand National Party (GNP) assemblywoman for Dalseong, Daegu, in 1998 by-election, and three more times in the same electoral district between 1998 and 2008, being the incumbent assemblywoman till April 2012. In 2012, Park announced that she would not run for a constituency representative seat for the 19th election in Dalseong or anywhere else, but for a proportional representative position for the Saenuri Party instead, in order to lead the party's election campaign.[1] She was elected as a proportional representative in the April 2012 election.

GNP chairwoman and "Queen of Elections"[edit]

Due to the failed attempt to impeach President Roh Moo-hyun, and the bribery scandal of its 2002 presidential candidate, Lee Hoi-chang (revealed in 2004), the GNP was facing a severe defeat in the 2004 general election. Park was appointed as the chairwoman of the party and led the election efforts. In the election, the GNP lost its majority position, but managed to gain 121 seats, which is largely considered a great achievement under such inhospitable circumstances for the party.[9][10] As the chairwoman of the GNP, Park helped her party make significant gains in local elections and actually obtain a majority in 2006.

During the campaign on 20 May 2006, Ji Chung-ho, a 50-year-old criminal with eight previous convictions, slashed Park's face with a utility knife, causing an 11-centimeter wound on her face, requiring 60 stitches and several hours of surgery.[11][12] A famous anecdote from this incident occurred when Park was hospitalized after the attack. The first word that she said to her secretary after her recovery from her wound was "How is Daejeon?" After this, the candidate from the Grand National Party won the election for mayor of the city of Daejeon despite having trailed by more than 20 percentage points in opinion polls up to the point of the attack. In addition, during Park's term as the GNP chairwoman between 2004 and 2006, the party won all 40 reelections and by-elections held, which was largely credited to Park's influence and efforts. This feat gave Park a nickname "Queen of Elections".[13][14]

On 12 February 2007, Park made a much-publicized visit to Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States. Her visit culminated in an address to a packed audience at the Kennedy School of Government, where she said she wanted to save Korea and advocated a stronger relationship between South Korea and the United States.[15][16]

2007 Presidential bid[edit]

Park hoped to emulate her father's success by becoming the presidential nominee of the Grand National Party.[17] She eventually lost to Lee Myung-bak by a narrow margin. Lee had a commanding lead at the beginning of the primary season, but Park was able to narrow the gap through allegations of Lee's corruption. Park won the "party member's bid", but she lost the "national bid", which is a larger percentage of the total presidential bid.

2008 general election[edit]

After the 2007 presidential election, President Lee Myung-bak formed a government of mostly close supporters.[18] Park's supporters argued that this was a kind of political reprisal, and that they should secede from the Grand National Party.[19] Eventually, they formed parties named Pro-Park Coalition and Solidarity for Pro-Park Independents (친박 무소속 연대; Chin Park Musosok Yeondae). Park herself did not join them, but indirectly supported them by announcing "I hope these people to come back alive." After the mass secession, the rebels announced that they would rejoin GNP after the general election, but the GNP prohibited it. In the following 2008 general election, the rebels won 26 seats: 14 from the Pro-Park Coalition and 12 as independents. Together, they played a pivotal role in the GNP's narrow majority. Park continually insisted that GNP should allow the return of her supporters. As of 2011, most of these rebels had returned to the GNP, resulting in approximately 50 to 60 assembly members who support Park out of 171 in the GNP.

Head of Saenuri Party[edit]

As a response to the dwindling approval rating of the GNP, the party formed an emergency committee and changed the name of the political party from the Grand National Party to the Saenuri Party, meaning "New Frontier" Party.[1] On 19 December 2011, Park was appointed as the chairwoman of GNP's Emergency Committee, the de facto leader of the party.

2012 parliamentary election[edit]

The Saenuri Party achieved a surprise win against the opposing Democratic United Party in the 2012 General Election, winning 152 seats and retaining its majority position. Because of the corruption scandals of the Lee administration revealed before the election, the Saenuri Party was widely expected to win no more than 100 seats.[20] During the 13-day campaign period, Park traveled about 7200 km around South Korea, visiting more than 100 constituencies.[21] It is the consensus of Korean news media and political experts that the most important factor leading to Saenuri Party's victory was Park's leadership. For this reason, the 2012 election was often dubbed the "return of the Queen of Election".[20][22] Saenuri's defeat in the populous Seoul metropolitan area in this election, however, revealed the limitation of Park's political influence.[20]

2012 presidential campaign[edit]

Park had been the leading candidate for the 2012 presidential election in every national-level poll in South Korea between 2008, when the Lee Myung-bak administration began, and September 2011, with an approval rating of 25% to 45%, more than twice that of the second candidate. Park's approval rating was highest when the 2008 National Assembly election showed her strong influence and lowest in early 2010 as a result of her political stance against the Lee administration in Sejong City issue.[23] In September 2011, Ahn Cheol-soo, a former venture IT businessman and the Dean of Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology at Seoul National University, emerged as a strong independent candidate for the presidency. In national-level presidential polls in September 2011, Ahn and Park Geun Hye closely competed for the status of front-runner, with Park losing the top seat in some polls for the first time since 2008.[24]

After her victory in the 2012 General Election, Park's approval rating increased significantly. In a national-level survey by Mono Research on 30 August[25] Park was the top presidential candidate with an approval rating of 45.5% when competing with all potential candidates, and according to another recent national survey result, had a higher approval rating (50.6%) than Ahn (43.9%) in a two-way competition with him as of 11 September.[26] On 10 July, Park formally announced her 2012 presidential bid at the Time Square, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul. In this event she emphasized the right to pursue happiness, a democratic economy, and customized welfare services for the Korean people.[27]

The opposing Democratic Party elected Moon Jae-in as its presidential candidate on 17 September. And Ahn announced his presidential bid on 19 September. Although still a leading candidate, in two-way competitions Park had lower approval ratings against Ahn's and against Moon's according to a 22 September national survey.[28] She was elected as the President of the Republic of Korea on 19 December 2012 with the approval of 51.6% of Korean voters.


In a 2012 survey by Korean Research assessing the political stance of 12 potential presidential candidates of South Korea, Park was considered the most conservative candidate.[1][29]

President Park Geun-hye (center) smiles and shows a self-portrait drawn by a girl in Cheong Wa Dae, Seoul, at Children's Day May 5, 2013

Her conservative, market-oriented political stance was well reflected in her campaign pledge for 2008 presidential bid to cut taxes, reduce regulation, and establish strong law and order.[30] Since 2009, however, Park started to focus more on welfare issues, advocating customized welfare services to the South Korean people.[30]

Park is well known for her strict, no-compromise adherence to political promises. In 2010, for example, she successfully stopped the Lee administration's attempt to cancel the plan to establish Sejong City, a new national center of administration, arguing the plan was a promise made to people. This conflict between Park and Lee Administration cost her a considerable decrease in her approval rating at the time.[31] In 2012, Park also vowed to construct a new airport in the southeastern region, a 2008 presidential campaign promise made by GNP but cancelled in 2011, despite claims of economic infeasibility of the plan.[32]

The administrative vision of President Park Geun-hye's new government is "a new era of hope and happiness". The five Administrative Goals of the government are "a jobs-centered creative economy", "tailored employment and welfare", "creativity-oriented education and cultural enrichment", "a safe and united society" and "strong security measures for sustainable peace on the Korean Peninsula". The Park Geun-hye administration plans to create a trustworthy, clean, and capable government through carrying out these goals, related strategies, and tasks.[33]



Park became the 18th president of South Korea on 25 February 2013. At midnight, she took over all presidential authorities including the prerogative of supreme command of South Korea's armed forces from her predecessor Lee Myung-bak. In her inauguration speech at the National Assembly building, Park spoke of her plan to open a new era of hope through "economic prosperity, people's happiness, and cultural enrichment". She particularly expressed her hope that North Korea would give up its nuclear arms and walk on the path of peace and mutual development, and declared that the foundation for a happy era of unification in which all Korean people will be able to enjoy prosperity and freedom and realize their dreams would be built through the Korean Peninsula Trust-building Process. In her inauguration speech, Park presented four guiding principles to realize her administrative vision: economic prosperity, people's happiness, cultural enrichment, and establishment of foundation for peaceful unification.[34] Park's inauguration ceremony was the largest one in South Korean history with 70,000 participants. Diplomatic representatives in Korea as well as high-level delegates specially sent from 24 countries around the world including Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, U.S. National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon, and former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda also participated in the event to congratulate Park.[35]

1st year (February 2013 – February 2014)[edit]

Administrative philosophy[edit]

The goal of the newly launched Park Geun-hye Administration for governing state affairs is to open "a new era of hope and happiness for all the people". Park avowed that South Korea will break away from its long-pursued development model that centers around the nation, and shift the focus of government administration from the state to individual citizens. Through this process the structure of co-prosperity, in which the citizens become happy and as a result the nation develops, will be created. Park's administrative vision and basic principles for governing the nation are concretely outlined in her policy plans for the economy, society, welfare, diplomacy, and unification. The administration's keywords in managing state affairs are "people", "happiness", "trust", "co-prosperity" and "principle".[36]

Government organization restructuring[edit]

Right after taking office, Park restructured the Blue House and government organization to carry out her administrative vision. The Office of National Security at the Blue House, Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, and Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries were newly launched, and the seat of Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs was revived. The Chief of the National Security Office would act as a "control tower" for diplomatic, security, and national defense issues, and the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs for economic, social, and welfare issues.[37]

Foreign policy[edit]

United States of America[edit]
Park Geun-hye at a bilateral meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama on 7 May 2013

After taking office, Park met with John Kerry and U.S. President Barack Obama. Park's trip to the United States was her first foreign trip after taking office.

Like many of her predecessors, Park has maintained a close relationship with the U.S., which has over 20,000 soldiers stationed in South Korea. During her visit to the U.S., she addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress, where she called for a united front against any North Korean provocations. Park also called for a strong global relationship between South Korea and the United States.[38]

Park assesses the security situation on the Korean Peninsula and emphasized that deterrence capabilities were the most important factor for security. Thus, Park considers the American-South Korean alliance as the most successful one in the world. And she hopes the American-South Korean relationship can be upgraded from a comprehensive strategic alliance to a global partnership.[39]

Park visited the United States on her first overseas trip as president. She traveled to Washington, D.C., New York City, and Los Angeles on 5–9 May 2013.[40]

During summit talks on May at the White House, Presidents Park and Obama adopted a joint declaration for the American-South Korean alliance and discussed ways to further develop the bilateral relations in a future-forward manner. Also, two leaders discussed ways to promote cooperation in building peace in the Northeast Asian region and strength the partnership between Seoul and Washington.[41]

The two leaders of South Korea and the United States agreed to adopt a joint statement on comprehensive energy cooperation to build a foundation for a future growth engine and establish a policy cooperation committee on information and communication technology. In addition, President Park urged her U.S. counterpart to expand the annual U.S. visa quota for South Korean professionals in order to promote co-development of both economies.[41]

In particular, the "Joint declaration in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Alliance between the Republic of Korea and the United States of America" adopted by South Korea and the United States will become a meaningful document looking back at the past six decades of the alliance and spelling out a new direction for the development of bilateral relations over the coming decade.[42]

North Korea[edit]

North Korea had engaged in provocations such as violating a UN Security Council resolution and firing a long-range missile on 12 December 2012, just before the 19 December presidential election. After Park was elected, North Korea conducted its third nuclear test 12 February 2013, nullified the non-aggression agreements between the two countries on 8 March and withdrew North Korean workers from the Kaesong Industrial Complex on 8 April.[43] Park maintained her stance that South Korea will not succumb to the North's provocations and threats, and will endeavor to elicit policy coordination towards North Korea with major powers such as the United States, China and the UN.[44] Her response to North Korean issues gained the support of many South Koreans and also the United States, China, and Russia, and played a significant role in the unanimous adoption by the UN Security Council of Resolution 2094 regarding North Korea on 7 March 2013.[45] Due to Park's response and the international community's actions, on 6 June North Korea ceased provocations and threats towards the South and suggested holding discussions on reopening the Kaesong Industrial Complex .[46] Park said that peace and unification on the Korean peninsula is the wish of all 70 million Koreans and that as president she will do her utmost to meet such a goal. As well, "the ultimate objective of reunification efforts is to improve the quality of life of people in both Koreas, to further expand freedom and human rights, and [from there] build a prosperous Korean Peninsula."[47] She later stated, "to open a new era of peace and hope on the peninsula, North Korea needs to accept her administration's trust building policy initiative".[48][49]

Park's policy vision and initiative on issues concerning North Korea and unification are reflected in her Korean peninsula Trust-building Process. The ministry of Unification has announced a new vision statement "realizing a new unified Korea that ensures everyone's happiness". The administrative tasks for this cause include normalizing inter-Korean relations through a trust-building process, embarking on small-scale unification projects that will lead to a complete integration of the two Koreas, and taking practical measures to prepare for unification by strengthening unification capabilities.[50] According to Park, peaceful unification will be achieved in three stage unification initiative: starting from securing peace, going through economic integration, and finally reaching political integration. To achieve sustainable peace by the initiative, the new administration will offer humanitarian assistance for the people in North Korea, inter-Korean exchange and cooperation in economic, social and cultural areas, and will apply 'Vision Korea project' for establishing a single economic community in the Korean peninsula, conditioned on sufficient mutual trust and progress in denuclearizing North Korea.[51]


On 27–30 June 2013, Park visited China with a South Korean delegation, where she met with Xi Jinping, the Chinese president. During the meetings, Park explained the government's stance on North Korea and gained his support.[52]


On 13 November 2013, Park held an extended summit with President Vladimir Putin, whose visit to South Korea was the first among leaders of 4 major powers including the United States, China, and Japan. During the summit, Park and Putin had a comprehensive and productive dialogue with focus on improving economic relations such as logistics cooperation projects (through Russia and North Korea), expanding people-to-people exchanges, and strengthening political ties between South Korea and Russia. Park, especially, emphasized on making preparations to produce an outcome that corresponds to common interests by combining Korea's Eurasian Initiative and Russia's Asia-Pacific Policy. After the summit, both presidents issued a joint communique and held a joint press conference. [53] [54] Earlier, Park attended the G-20 Summit at St. Petersburg in September 2013, where she met Putin for a separate dialogue discussing economic cooperation and seeking support on North Korean issues. It marked the first Korea-Russia summit talk since Park's inauguration.[55] When Park met with Russian Minister for the Development of Russian Far East Viktor Ishaev, who headed the Russian delegation to Park's inaugural ceremony, she stated that Russia is one of Korea's key strategic partners, and the successful launch of the Naro rocket is the outcome of mutually beneficial relations and demonstrates that relations will grow stronger in the future. She also noted that Russia's active participation in the six-party talks will contribute to alleviating tension on the Korean Peninsula. (27 February 2013 Rossiyskaya Gazeta)[56]

Economic policy[edit]

Park announced her plan to build a "Creative Economy" on 5 June 2013, representing her vision for economic revival and job creation.[57]

In April, Park said "Timing is very important for our Economic Policy, jobs and livelihood mainly ordinary people should organize a supplementary budget in a timely manner."[58]

On 8 April 2014, Park Geun-hye signed the Australia Korea Free Trade Agreement with Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott.[59]

Social policy[edit]

Park Geun-hye has proposed as one of the national agenda the eradication of "Four Major Social Evils" (4대 사회악: «4-dae sahweak») – sexual violence, domestic violence, school violence and unsafe food. Statistics show that sexual violence and Domestic violence are increasing in these years. Without referring to statistical data, aggravating school violence or food safety is a public concern in South Korea.[60][61] She also launched the National Unity Committee on 17 June with the purpose to advise the president in the process of resolving various conflicts in South Korean society and establishing a culture of co-existence and co-prosperity. Former Democratic United Party Advisor Han Kwang -ok was named as the head.[62]


On 18 May 2013, President Park Geun-hye attended the 33rd anniversary of the Gwangju massacre, and gave voice to sorrow for the victims family members.[63]

2nd year (March 2014 – February 2015)[edit]

Foreign policy[edit]

North Korea[edit]

President Park Geun-hye proposed three steps to North Korea to help move toward the reunification of the Korean Peninsula, on March 28 in Dresden during her state visit to Germany.[64] And marking the Korean Peninsula`s liberation from Japan`s colonial rule Friday(8.15), President Park said, as anguish from the two Koreas` separation passes from one generation to the next, abnormalities on the divided peninsula have become the norm. The South Korean president then highlighted the urgent need to increase understanding and to help merge the lives of South and North Koreans for reunification. "Starting with jointly managing rivers and forests running through the two Koreas, we need to expand joint projects that benefit both sides. In that respect, I hope North Korea will attend the UN Convention on Biological Diversity conference to be held in South Korean city of Pyeongchang in October." [65] President Park Geun-hye has warned that a new nuclear test by North Korea could lead to, "a nuclear domino effect", that might provide its neighbors with a pretext to arm themselves with nuclear weapons, as she sat down with Wall Street Journal Managing Editor Gerard Baker in Seoul on May 28.[66]

Government organization restructuring[edit]

On May 18, 2014, President Park Geun-hye announced South Korea's "plans to break up its coastguard" after failing to respond well during the MV Sewol ferry disaster.[67] According to Park, "investigation and information roles would be transferred to the South Korea National Police while the rescue and salvage operation and ocean security roles would be transferred to the Department for National Safety, not to be confused with the Korean Ministry of Security and Public Administration, which will be newly established".[68] On November 19, 2014, the Korea Coast Guard and National Emergency Management Agency ceased control as the Ministry of Public Safety and Security was founded at the same day.

3rd year (March 2015 – present)[edit]

Foreign policy[edit]


On 26 May 2015, president Park Geun-hye urged the head of the Asian Development Bank to cooperate with South Korea and the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank[69] after South Korea have officially applied to join the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in late March 2015.[70]

Approval ratings[edit]

Park Geun-hye's Presidential Job Approval Rating

In July 2013, public support for Park's method of governing state affairs reached up to 63%, much higher than the percentage of the votes she had won in the presidential election, which is 51.6%.[71] The Korean media explained that such a high level of support comes from Park's principled North Korea policy, constructive outcome from visits to the United States and China, and distancing away from internal political disputes.[72]

By January 2015, Park's approval rating had fallen to 30%, partly due to the sinking of MV Sewol and disputes with North Korea.[73] By September 2015, Parks's approval increased to 54% due to her diplomacy that defused a military standoff with North Korea.[74]


Parentage controversy[edit]

Park had been often criticized for being the "daughter of a dictator Park Chung-hee"[75][76] and for not actively supporting the Lee administration by supporters of Lee Myung-bak. A national-level poll conducted in July 2012 by a conservative newspaper reported that 59.2% of participants responded they did not believe Park was a "daughter of a dictator" while 35.5% agreed with the characterization.[77]

During a recent interview with the Cheongju broadcast station CJB, Park commented regarding her stance that her father's May 16 coup was a "revolution to save the country" by stating, "I don't think it's the place of politicians to be fighting over whether [the events of 1961] were a 'coup d'etat' or a 'revolution'."[78] In a July 2012 survey, 49.9% of respondents answered that they disagreed with Park's assessment that her father's 1961 coup was "unavoidable, the best possible choice, and an advisable decision", as opposed to 37.2% that agreed.[79]

Bu-il foundation accusations[edit]

Park has faced much scrutiny over an educational foundation, Jeongsoo Scholarship Foundation, formerly known as Buil (in reference to the stock it controls in the newspaper "Busan Ilbo"), which her father, and later, she headed. Its original owners claimed in court they were forced to turn it over to her father.[80]

Party criticism[edit]

A Saenuri Party assemblyman Nam Gyeong-pil criticized the Park-centered nature of the party, regarding its preparation for the 2012 presidential election, and stated, "If we keep seeing the same situation where Park Geun-hye gives a press conference before a general meeting of lawmakers is held, and what she says then gets decided on as the party's position, then the public is going to think democracy has disappeared from the party."

Furthermore, some have said Park's behavior in the lead-up to 2012 presidential election was a mixture of trend-following and corner-cutting—a stark contrast with the vehement insistence on principle that she showed when she opposed a revision of the plan for a multifunctional administrative city in Sejong City. For instance, Yim Tae-hee, another presidential candidate of the party, pointed to Park's voting down of a motion to arrest Chung Doo-un, a law maker implicated with bribery related to saving banks. Another candidate, Ahn Sang-soo, accused Park of "saying one thing yesterday and another today".[81]

Spokesman scandal[edit]

Further information: Yoon Chang-jung

Park fired Yoon Chang-jung, a Blue House spokesman who was alleged by Washington police as committing sexual assault against a young woman hired as an intern at the South Korean Embassy in Washington during President Park's first visit to the United States.[82] Park has been criticized for picking the wrong people for senior government posts.[83]

Election-meddling scandal[edit]

Just a week before the presidential election date, the opposing party has alleged that the public servants from National Intelligence Service (NIS) have organized to promote Park's election campaign by way of posting articles favorable to Park and slanderous to the opposing candidates online[citation needed]. This political behavior by public servants is strictly prohibited by Korean Constitution.[84] To prove their allegation, the opposing Democratic Party, along with the police and Central Election Assistance Commission, swooped in the house where the alleged agent of NIS has resided[citation needed]. From there, the 29-year-old female agent, later known as Ha-Young Kim, who was running an illegal online election campaign operation such as spreading slanderous postings about the opposing candidate had locked herself in[citation needed]. The police could not force to enter the house and the standoff lasted for three days, which provoked a tense political standoff[citation needed]. The opposition accused the intelligence service of blocking an investigation[citation needed]. Park and her party accused the opposition of harassing the woman.[85] Park even said the standoff of the self lock-in was a violation against a female right in the presidential candidate debate that took place three days before the election[citation needed]

Later that night of the presidential debate, Kim Yong-pan, then the chief of Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, publicly announced there was no evidence of illegal online postings from the collected laptop of the female agent[citation needed]. This announcement, which took place three days before the election, was believed to have significantly affected the outcome of the presidential election according to the opposing party[citation needed]. After months of probe into the alleged election meddling, the prosecution concluded in mid-June 2013 that Won Sei-hoon, then NIS chief who headed the intelligence agency for around four years under former President Lee Myung-bak, ordered agents to conduct online smear campaign against opposition presidential candidates[citation needed]. The special investigation drew a conclusion that the agents systemically intervened in domestic politics by writing thousands of postings on politics in cyberspace through hundreds of different user IDs[citation needed]. Kim Yong-pan, then chief of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency (SMPA), was prosecuted without physical detention on charges of abusing his authority to hamper police investigation into the case.[86] CCTV conversation between the computer analysts who was analyzing the laptop at police revealed that the police already knew there were illegal online postings against the opposing party's candidates, but the chief of SMPA publicly announced otherwise, which indicates intentional meddling into the presidential election[citation needed].

The investigation and the trial at court is on-going, and Park faces a political blow[citation needed]. However, the leading Saenuri party along with government leaders has attempted to dodge its political fall-out[citation needed]. Their effort has involved tipping a rumor to a major conservative media, Chosun Ilbo, about extramarital child of the Chae Dong-wook, former Prosecutor General, who has approved the prosecution of Won Se-hoon and Kim Yong-pan, which eventually led to his resignation.[87] Yoon Suk-ryul, the director of special investigation team, which was leading the probe into the election meddling, was fired and returned to his original position, head of Yeoju branch Supreme Prosecutors Office. The investigation of his team has further revealed that the NIS is suspected of having posted 55,689 messages on Twitter for three months until the presidential election.[88]

Whether or not the election meddling of the NIS by way of online posts has actually affected the outcome of the presidential election is controversial[citation needed]. However, the false announcement by Kim Yong-pan, then chief of the SMPA, has appeared to do so[citation needed]. Had the police announced honestly, 13.8% of the electorate who voted for Park said they would have voted for Moon Jae-In, the first runner-up of the election.[89]

Lack of communication[edit]

Park is known to rarely hold a press conference with questions and answers. As of January 11, 2015, She held press conferences four times since she took office in February 2013. Among the four press conferences, three of them were public speeches without questions and answers. Even in the remaining press conference, the questions were submitted in advance and she read prepared answers. Consequently, she is labeled as "No communication" (불통, Bultong).[90][91]

November 2015 protests[edit]

On November 15, 2015 around 80,000 anti-government protesters clashed with government forces on the streets of Seoul, demanding Park to step down, many of the protesters chanting "Park Geun-hye, step down". The rally was triggered by Park adopting business-friendly labour policies and a decision to require middle and high schools to use only state-issued history textbooks in classes starting in 2017,[92] combined with plans to make labour markets more flexible by giving employers more leeway in dismissing workers. Security forces fired tear gas and sprayed water cannons into the crowd when protesters attempted to break through police barricades. [93]

Controversy and Doubt[edit]

Controversy about Violating Public Official Election Act[edit]

On June 25, 2015 Park said that "Betrayal which breaks the trust shouldn't be accepted in politics and this should be punished by election with people's own hands". This mention was aimed to Yu Seungmin who was a member of Saenuri Party. Her mention was criticized by professor Jo Guk and politician Mun Jaein because it had a purpose of losing Yu Seungmin's election which is protected by Public Official Election Act. But National Election Commission had decided not to treat Park's mention as an violation of Public Official Election Act.[94]

Electoral history[edit]

National Assembly races (1998 to present)[edit]


15th National Assembly of the Republic of Korea elections, 1998 by-election, Dalseong, Daegu [95]
Party Candidate Votes %
Grand National Park Geun-hye 28,937 51.5
Democratic Eom Sam-tak 16,355 29.1
Total votes 45,292 100.0
Grand National hold


16th National Assembly of the Republic of Korea elections, 2000, Dalseong, Daegu [96]
Party Candidate Votes %
Grand National Park Geun-hye 37,805 61.4
Democratic Eom Sam-tak 23,744 37.8
Total votes 62,738 100.0
Grand National hold


17th National Assembly of the Republic of Korea elections, 2004, Dalseong, Daegu[96]
Party Candidate Votes %
Grand National Park Geun-hye 45,298 70.0
Uri Yun Yong-hui 15,014 22.9
Democratic Labor Heo Gyeong-do 4,367 6.6
Total votes 65,633 100.0
Grand National hold


18th National Assembly of the Republic of Korea elections, 2008, Dalseong, Daegu[97]
Party Candidate Votes %
Grand National Park Geun-hye 50,149 88.57
Democratic Labor No Yun-jo 5,080 8.97
PUFP Im Jung-heon 1,386 2.44
Total votes 57,416 100.0
Grand National hold


19th National Assembly of the Republic of Korea elections, 2012, Proportional Representative[98][99]
Party Candidate Votes %
Saenuri Park Geun-hye 9,130,651 42.8
Saenuri hold

Presidential (2012)[edit]

e • d Summary of the 19 December 2012 South Korean presidential election results
Candidate Party Votes %
Park Geun-hye Saenuri Party 15,773,128 51.55
Moon Jae-in Democratic United Party 14,692,632 48.02
Kang Ji-won Independent 53,303 0.17
Kim Soon-ja Independent 46,017 0.15
Kim So-yeon Independent 16,687 0.05
Park Jong-sun Independent 12,854 0.04
Invalid/blank votes 126,838
Total 30,721,459 100
Registered voters/turnout 40,507,842 75.84
Source: National Election Commission



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  • 나의 어머니 육영수 [My mother, Yuk Young-soo] (in Korean). People&People. January 2001. ISBN 89-85541-54-4. 
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  • 내 마음의 여정 [Journey of My Mind] (in Korean). Hansol Media. May 1995. ISBN 89-85656-50-3. 
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See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Yuk Young-soo
First Lady of South Korea

August 16, 1974–October 26, 1979
Succeeded by
Hong Gi
National Assembly of South Korea
Preceded by
Gim Suk-won
Member of the National Assembly
for Dalseong

April 3, 1998–May 29, 2012
Succeeded by
Lee Jong-jin
Party political offices
Preceded by
Choe Byeong-ryeol
Leader of the Grand National Party
March 23, 2004–July 10, 2006
Succeeded by
Kang Jae-sup
Preceded by
Hong Jun-pyo
as Leader of the Grand National Party
Leader of the Saenuri Party
December 17, 2011–May 15, 2012
Succeeded by
Hwang Woo-yea
Political offices
Preceded by
Lee Myung-bak
President of South Korea
February 25, 2013–present