Wednesday, May 22, 2013
By Latin Times Staff Writer, Dec 19, 2012 02:37 PM EST
(PHOTO CREDIT: Reuters) Winner of South Korea's presidential election Park Geun-hye smiles as she holds a bouquet in Seoul.
The votes are still being counted, but victory is all bust assured at this point; South Korea has elected Conservative Saenuri [New Frontier] Party candidate Park Geun-hye its first female president.
While votes are still being tallied, Park's liberal rival Moon Jae-in has conceded, and admitted defeat, according to the BBC.
The 60-year-old Park, the daughter of former dictator Park Chung-hee, won with a commanding lead in a year that saw large voter turnout in an election focused on economic and social welfare issues. Even for a year when temperatures read in the sub-freezing range across the country on election day, South Korea experienced a record-breaking 76 percent voter turnout, surpassing the two previous presidential elections.
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Park will come to replace her party colleague Lee Myung-bak who is stepping down, as the law requires, after his five-year term.
Combined figures from networks reporting the poll results gave Park a 50.1 percent victory over Moon's 48.9 percent.
"This is a victory brought by the people's hope for overcoming crisis and economic recovery," she told supporters in the capital Seoul.
According to the BBC, economic growth has fallen to about 2 percent after several decades in which it averaged 5.5 percent.
She interacted only briefly with media in downtown Seol following her win, but the five-term lawmaker vowed to keep every promise she made while on the campaign trail. She says she'll keep everyone's support and trust in mind and that she "will definitely open an era of peoples' happiness in which everyone can enjoy some simple pleasures and their dreams can come true," she said. Park left the stage after being handed a bouquet of flowers. She gave no formal victory speech.
Park and Moon put forth similar policies during campaigning, vowing to boost social welfare spending, shrink the gap between the country's rich and poor, and put stricter controls on the family-run massive conglomerates known as chaebol.
Both candidates made promises to interact with North Korea, though, Moon was decidedly more open to meeting with the nation face-to-face, suggesting South Korea have a summit with the insular dictatorship. For her part, Park said no such meeting would ever take place under her watch unless Pyongyang first apologized for its military provocation in recent years.
Park's father famously lead a coup in 1961 and remained in power until he was assassinated in 1979 by the chief of his intelligence agency. According to her campaign, Park's first order of business the morning following the election is to pay her respects at the national cemetery where her parents are buried.
Park will take office on Feb. 25, 2013.