Sunday, January 21, 2018

South Korea elects first woman president

SEOUL — Park Geun-hye, whose authoritarian father helped jump-start South Korea's rise from third-world poverty, was elected Wednesday night as president of a nation concerned about its slowing economy and mounting first-world social problems.

Park, 60, becomes an unlikely leader: She's the first female president in a nation dominated by men, and she's a conservative selected by voters to address their largely left-leaning wishes, including greater engagement with North Korea and a major expansion of government welfare spending.

In a race that wasn't decided until after several hours of vote-counting, Park edged out former human rights lawyer Moon Jae-in, who conceded six hours after polls closed. With 94 percent of all votes counted, according to Korea's National Election Commission, Park had received 51.6 percent of the votes, compared with Moon's 48 percent.

"I believe the nation's passion to overcome crisis and revive the economy has brought this victory," Park said during a late-night victory speech in downtown Seoul. "I will not forget your trust in me."

The two leading candidates had proposed comparable policies, their major plans differing only in degree and projected cost. The race, instead, became a referendum on their backgrounds, with Park cast as the "princess" and Moon as the "common man," said Hahm Sung-deuk, a political scientist at Korea University.

Koreans were divided on whether the daughter of a Cold War military ruler, somebody who jailed dissenters and rewrote the constitution in his favor, could prove a suitable leader for a 25-year-old democracy. The debate also revealed a generational rift. Park received the overwhelming support of those 50 and older. Moon garnered votes from those in their 20s and 30s.

The two fought over the middle ground — those in their 40s who remember the frenzied student protests for democracy in the 1980s, but who now worry about the soaring cost of educating their children, as well as the shrinking job market those children will face when they graduate.

South Korea has the world's 15th-largest economy, but its boom days are over, with just 2.4 percent growth predicted this year by the central bank. That is far below the 7 percent growth promised by current President Lee Myung-bak, a conservative who five years ago laid out a raft of ambitious targets, none of them realized.

Park will replace Lee in February to begin a single five-year term.

Comments
Nadal beats Schwartzman, reaches Aussie Open quarterfinals

Nadal beats Schwartzman, reaches Aussie Open quarterfinals

Rafael Nadal got a good fitness test in his almost four-hour, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-3 win over Diego Schwartzman to reach the Australian Open quarterfinals for the 10th time
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Nadal beats Schwartzman, reaches Aussie Open quarterfinals

Nadal beats Schwartzman, reaches Aussie Open quarterfinals

Rafael Nadal got a good fitness test in his almost four-hour, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-3 win over Diego Schwartzman to reach the Australian Open quarterfinals for the 10th time
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Pence meets Jordan king on trip clouded by Jerusalem move

Pence meets Jordan king on trip clouded by Jerusalem move

The United States' controversial shift to recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital was expected to be front and center Sunday during Vice President Mike Pence's meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah II
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Pence meets Jordan king on trip clouded by Jerusalem move

Pence meets Jordan king on trip clouded by Jerusalem move

The United States' controversial shift to recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital was expected to be front and center Sunday during Vice President Mike Pence's meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah II
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Taliban attack on Afghan hotel ends after 13 hours, 6 dead

Taliban attack on Afghan hotel ends after 13 hours, 6 dead

Taliban assault on the Intercontinental Hotel in Afghanistan's capital kills at least six people, including a foreigner, and pins security forces down for more than 13 hours before the last attacker is killed
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Taliban attack on Afghan hotel ends after 13 hours, 6 dead

Taliban attack on Afghan hotel ends after 13 hours, 6 dead

Taliban assault on the Intercontinental Hotel in Afghanistan's capital kills at least six people, including a foreigner, and pins security forces down for more than 13 hours before the last attacker is killed
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Sebastian Korda follows in father's footsteps at Aussie Open

Sebastian Korda follows in father's footsteps at Aussie Open

Twenty years after Petr Korda's title at the Australian Open, his 17-year-old son Sebastian follows in his footsteps in the juniors draw
Updated: 1 hour ago
Democrats, GOP exchange charges of blame for shutdown

Democrats, GOP exchange charges of blame for shutdown

Congressional Democrats and Republicans are waiting for each other to blink over the government shutdown
Updated: 1 hour ago
Democrats, GOP exchange charges of blame for shutdown

Democrats, GOP exchange charges of blame for shutdown

Congressional Democrats and Republicans are waiting for each other to blink over the government shutdown
Updated: 1 hour ago
'The Shape of Water' wins top Producers Guild Award

'The Shape of Water' wins top Producers Guild Award

Guillermo del Toro's fantastical romance "The Shape of Water" has won the top honor from the Producers Guild of America
Updated: 1 hour ago