South Korea Elects Its First Female President

January 28, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. conservative party (n.) 
[kuhn-sur-vuh-tiv] [pahr-tee]– a political group that  supports established ways and is in favor of gradual rather than abrupt changes 
Example: The LDP is Japan’s leading conservative party.

2. assassinate (v.) [uh-sas-uh-neyt] – to kill a famous or important person, usually for political reasons
Example: The secret organization hired a gunman to assassinate the company vice president.

3. powerhouse (n.) [pou-er-hous]– something that has great power or ability
Example: Germany is now Europe’s economic powerhouse.

4. revive (v.) [ri-vahyv]– to bring back to life or good condition
Example: Voters are hoping that the new president will revive the nation’s failing economy.

5. expansion (n.) [ik-span-shuhn]– the act of increasing the size or the amount of something
Example: We will be building more offices as part of the expansion of our business.

Read the text below.

On December 19, 2012, conservative party candidate Park Gyeun-hye won the presidential election in South Korea, becoming the country’s first female president.

Park Gyeun-hye’s win is the first time that a presidential candidate has won more than half of all the votes. Additionally, the National Election Commission revealed that 75.8% of the total number of voters participated in the recent elections, the highest number of voters in 15 years.

The 60-year-old Park is the daughter of Park Chung-hee, a dictator who ruled South Korea for 18 years. Despite the many offenses against human rights committed during his rule, Park’s father remains one of the most popular presidents of South Korea because he transformed South Korea from a poor nation to an economic powerhouse.  In 1979, Park’s father was assassinated.

Older voters who remember the fast economic growth experienced by South Korea under the rule of Park’s father may have helped Park win.

Park has built her own political career. Her success at reviving her failing political party earned her the name “Queen of Elections.”  In all of the pre-election polls, Park was ahead of other candidates.

The newly elected president said she would keep her promises and prioritize jobs creation and expansion of welfare programs.

Among the issues she will face is how to control chaebols. Chaebols are large South Korean companies such as Samsung and Hyundai. Although they help the economy, their uncontrolled expansion is also responsible for the widening gap between the rich and the poor in South Korea.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Why do you think it took a long time before a woman held the top government position in South Korea?
·         How can more women be encouraged to study politics or to become leaders?

Discussion B

·         Do you think that women could make good leaders? Why or why not?
·         Should there be less or more women in leadership positions at work and in government? Why do you think so?


January 28, 2013