ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Challenges before the South Korea's New President

Park Geun-hye made history when she was sworn in as the first female president of South Korea. Even as she faces many challenges, both on the economic front and with regard to relations with North Korea, she has to contend with the mixed legacy of her father who took power in a military coup and ruled South Korea for 18 years, ruthlessly suppressing democratic voices while overseeing the country's transformation to an industrial powerhouse.

SOn 25 February, Park Geun-hye, the daughter of former military ruler Park Chung-hee, was sworn in as South Korea’s first woman president following her tightly contested election victory on 19 December 2012.1

In more ways than one, her election marks a historic breakthrough for a traditionally Confucian country2 whose social, political and business fields are dominated by men. Although the country has shown a remarkably high level of economic performance over the past few decades,3 its global ranking in gender parity is not much to talk about. Women hold only 14.7% of parliamentary seats, and only 79.4% of adult women have reached a secondary or higher level of education compared to 91.7% of their male counterparts. According to the Gender Development Index of the United Nations Development Programme (2011), female participation in the labour market is only 50.1% compared to 72% for men.

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