Monday, February 11th, 2013
The surname Park may be one of the most common encountered in South Korea, so if you say it in isolation to a local conversation partner, it may draw a blank. But if you mention it with the word “president” in front, you are likely to get a strong response from your friend. Some South Koreans idolize the man who served in the Blue House from 1961 to 1979 and credit him with advancing the economy. Others revile him for prioritizing industrialization ahead of democracy while a third camp praises his economic policies, even as they denounce his dictatorship. But be sure that everyone articulates an opinion.
These days, the attention is focused not just on him, but also on his daughter, namely Park Geun-hye, who is seeking to become the paramount leader of the Republic of Korea in this year’s national election. Who is she and what can be said about her as an overview? Park was born on February 2, 1952 in Daegu. She was the first child of future president Park. Her younger brother is Park Ji-man and her younger sister is Park Seoyoung. Her early life was painful. Tragically, on August 15, 1974, her mother was shot to death by Mun Se-gwang, a Korean born in Japan, who was apparently trying to kill President Park. The incident occurred at the National Theatre. With the country’s first lady dead, the young Park bravely stepped into a new role. Then her father suffered assassination on October 26, 1979 when Kim Jae-kyu, the head of the Korean intelligence service, pulled the trigger on his own pistol. This double loss has won Ms. Park some measure of public sympathy.