Ms. Geun Hye Park, often tagged by Korean detractors as “the dictator’s daughter,” has had the last laugh. She was elected president of South Korea on December19, 2012 Park led with 51.6 percent, while her rival, Moon Jae-in, was on 48 percent, according to the National Election Commission of South Korea.
Is this decision of South Korea’s voters in one of the most male-dominated Asian cultures a sign that the world is entering a new age of women’s leadership? Many Unificationists would say “yes.” The late founder of the Unification movement, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, declared emphatically that the global age of the 21st Century will be the age of women as early as April 10, 1992 at the inaugural conference of the International Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP).Rev. Moon said at the time, “I am certain that today we are witnessing a great event that will have a profound meaning in the history of women not only in Korea but throughout the world. Until now, men have provided primary leadership in leading the progress of history. This rally today, however, marks an historic turning point declaring the beginning of the ‘Age of Women’ for the entire world.’” He went on to say, “The women of this age are the true workers who, in the presence of the True Parents who come as the Messiah, will cleanse this world of war, violence, suppression, exploitation and crime led by men. Women will build an ideal world filled with peace, love and freedom. It is also up to women to see that the evil forces, primarily led by men that opposed and persecuted the forces of righteousness and good, are now completely eradicated so that they cannot cause any more trouble.”
By most accounts, Mrs. Geun Hye Park has led an extraordinary life, having been raised in the home of her father, President Park Chung Hee (assassinated in 1979) and having risen to become the first woman president of South Korea. “Park served in the presidential palace, the Blue House, as her father's first lady in the 1970s following the death of her mother who was killed by a North Korean-backed gunman. Her father, Park Chung-hee, is a polarizing figure in South Korea, having seized power in a 1961 military coup. During his 18 years of rule, he is credited with helping bring about the country's economic rise, but is also vilified for human rights abuses committed under his regime,” according to a report by Germany’s international broadcaster DW (Deutsche Welle), But even this legacy of her father couldn’t stop her from becoming the president.
South Korea is well-known as a society governed by males in government, the workplace and in civil society. Dr. Mark P. Barry, an adjunct professor at Unification Theological Seminary, said “Madam Park’s election win is an enormous victory for gender equality or gender balance in South Korea, which is such a male-dominated society. This is hugely significant from an Unificationist perspective, where the movement is now being led by Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon.”
Because of North Korea’s recent test of a long-range ballistic missile, South Korea’s military issued a security alert. Korea watchers around the world are speculating about how a female executive in Korea’s Blue House will handle the security portfolio in the coming years. Dr. Barry added: “Mrs. Park recently spoke at a symposium on Northeast Asian security sponsored by the Segye Ilbo, and briefly met with Kook Jin Moon, chairman of Tongil Group. The other two candidates running at the time refused to attend, although they had been invited.” Also according to Yon Hap news agency in Korea, May 11,2002 Mrs. Park visited North Korea. “President-elect Geun Hye Park shared her position on establishing a separated family visiting room, confirmation on missing soldiers during the Korean War, invitation representative North Korea soccer team,” reported Yon Hap.
Mrs. Geun Hye Park, greets her supporters after her victory as South Korea’s first female president. (AP Photo/Yonhap. Lee Ji-eun)