South Korean presidential candidate Park Geun-hye has admitted her father’s wrongdoings and apologized for the suffering under his dictatorial rule, Korea JoongAng Daily reports.

Ms. Park, the presidential candidate of the ruling Saenuri Party, has been weighed down in polls by ‘historical baggage’ associated with her father. In a strongly worded speech, the daughter South Korea’s longest-serving military dictator, Park Chung-hee, finally publicly voiced her views on her father’s legacy. Ms. Park expressed remorse over human rights violations and suffering caused by her father’s dictatorship, Korea JoongAng Daily reports.

Ms. Park told reporters that she was speaking about her father’s regime “as a presidential candidate, not as a daughter”.

“My father knew that he would face criticism in the future, and I also understand well that his earnest goal of making a prosperous Korea was from the heart,” Ms. Park said at the press conference in Seoul. “But in politics, goals cannot justify means”.

“I deeply apologize to all those who were personally hurt and family members of victims of government abuse,” Ms. Park added.

The 60-year old presidential candidate has also pledged to change the “backward paradigm” of male domination in South Korea.