Park Geun-Hye launched a presidential campaign on Tuesday, a move that, if she wins, could break a pattern in the usually patriarchal society.
The daughter of South Korea’s longest-serving leader Park Chung-hee has been leading presidential polls, reports the Wall Street Journal, and is the leading figure in the ruling center-right New Frontier Party. Incumbent president Lee Myung-bak is also a member.
In a 25 minute speech, she promised change from the “backward paradigm” of male domination and promoted closer ties with politically estranged North Korea. She vowed to “build a safer and steadier relationship with the North [and help it] to become a responsible member of the global community”. Ms. Park said that she would pursue economic development through support for small enterprises. She also pledged to strengthen the welfare state, boost domestic consumption and tackle youth unemployment.
According to analysts, Ms. Park’s bid for the presidency is over-shadowed by her authoritarian father, who ruled for 18 years. Professor Choi Jang-jip, of Korea University, told the FT, “There are still many people who are against her because they believe her election would undermine the country’s democracy”.
Ms. Park’s election could serve as a catalyst to ending Korea’s gender inequality. Only half of Korean women work, the same percentage as two decades ago, according to the Journal.