Thursday, July 19, 2012

Female Presidential Candidate Should "Show Some Leg" - Korea Times

60 year-old presidential candidate Park Geun-hye, who is campaigning to become Korea's first female president, should 'show some leg' according to the Managing Editor of The Korea Times, in an editorial titled "If Park shows some leg".

Commenting on her struggles, which have seen Park controversially state that the 1961 military coup led by her father against a fledgling democratic government was the "inevitable and best possible choice" for Korea, Editor Oh suggests that she start her fightback by wearing skirts. By insisting on wearing trousers, he says, "it reinforces sexist stereotypes that she is just another woman trying to break the glass ceiling in a male-dominated society."

Conversely, The Korea Times - which last week said that women who wore skirts walked a thin line between sexy and trashy - believes that by being politically pressured into wearing a skirt and 'showing some leg' by the male establishment she will break free of sexual stereotypes.

Park's campaign ran into difficulties right from the start, when voters noticed a striking physical difference to other presidential candidates, and many soon realized it was because she was a woman. In their weaker moments, some say that after 5,000 years of male leadership it's time for a woman to lead Korea, and others argue that it could be good for democracy, because if she doesn't do things properly she can be beaten until she learns.

However, most people have admitted they will vote for her because it's the closest they can come to bringing back the popular authoritarian government which was overthrown in the Democratic Coup of 1987. Many of these voters were in positions where they benefited from the culture of corruption and coercion under the previous authoritarian but strong regimes.

Park's father had reluctantly led the 1961 coup after protests - predictably organized by liberals - made governing the country difficult. This forced the general to selflessly seize power from the incompetent government. He promised to quickly return power to civilian authorities but such had been the scale of the damage they had done in their short period in office, that Park was still in power 18 years later trying to sort out the mess when he was assassinated by the director of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency.

Many now argue that rather than being a coup, the 1961 military takeover and removal of the democratic government should be seen as a revolution in the same spirit as the French Revolution and the American Revolution. An editorial in the JoongAng Daily covering the opening of a library dedicated to the honor of the late military ruler read "The Park Chung Hee Memorial-Library should be more than an exhibition displaying his relics. It should be a place that inspires national pride and encourages ambition. It should remind us of how far this country has come and how strong leadership can direct us to a better tomorrow."

And indeed, if Park had not been brutally cut down in his prime, South Korea would have continued developing its nuclear program to the extent that it is hard to imagine North Korea being a problem today, or even being at all. With South Korea once again considering building its own bomb to defend itself from North Korea, China, Japan and American beef imports, voters are perhaps hoping Park's daughter can finish what her father started.

So will it be a case of like-father like-daughter, and despite her obvious disadvantage can Park Geun-hye create a strong leadership which can direct us to a better tomorrow? By referring to the 1961 Korean Revolution as the "inevitable and best possible choice" for this country, Park certainly believes so. But can the military accept a female leader? If Park becomes president they have so far not said if this will represent an inevitable and best possible choice for Korea, or whether there is another option. Perhaps in the face of these uncertainties she will be forced to follow the advice of The Korea Times, and 'show some leg' to get elected and win people's respect.

Related Links
If Park shows some leg
Park's campaign may jolt Korea's male-dominated society: report
Debate still hot over May 16 coup
Coup or revolution? A ‘May 16’ discussion
Kim: Park's Remark on 1961 Coup Unconstitutional
Rivals disagree with Park over May 16 coup
The conflicted legacy of Park Chung-hee
Sixth Republic of South Korea
Park Chung Hee, the CIA & the Bomb
Time for S.Korea to Develop Its Own Nuclear Arms
Is domestic violence taken seriously in Korea?
Stalking Seoul’s Sexy and Trashy Sluts

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