South Korea elected on December 19, 2012 its first woman President, handing a historic victory to Ms. Park Geun-hye, the candidate of the ruling conservative party. She is the daughter of the country’s former military ruler Mr. Park Chung-hee. In the election, she comfortably defeated Mr. Moon Jae-in, her liberal rival from the main opposition party.
The election was mainly fought on domestic economic issues. Both the candidates offered similar policies in an attempt to jack up support for themselves beyond their traditional strongholds. Ms. Park underscored the need for economic democratisation, which means reducing the social disparities created by rapid economic development. She also promised to generate more jobs and increase welfare spending.
As the leader of Asia’s fourth largest economy, Ms. Park (60) will have to deal with a number of tough challenges. These include handling its belligerent neighbour North Korea, a slowing economy, and rising welfare costs in South Korea, which is one of the world’s most rapidly ageing societies.