Thursday, December 20, 2012

South Korea Elects First Robot President

Lifelike robot plots revenge
South Korea has taken another step forward for diversity by electing its first robot president. The robot, named 'Park Geun-hye', was the brainchild of former popular dictator and coup-leader General President Park Chung-hee, who initiated the so-called "Ice Princess" program in the 1960s to engineer a long line of succession consisting of like-minded leaders programmed with the dictator's thoughts.

In order to allay widespread social prejudices about robots, officially 'Park Geun-hye' was adopted by the dictator and his wife, and a cover story was constructed in which she was 'born' in 1952 before attending several educational institutions.

The ambitious project ran into trouble in the early 1970s, when it was finally accepted that Korea could not construct some of the logic processing, information and memory-retrieval technology required to complete the Ice Princess android prototype, requiring the unit to be shipped to France for completion with computer chips from early Minitel prototypes. Unfortunately the plan was not quite complete when General President Park Chung-hee's wife was assassinated, requiring the Ice Princess to be recalled to Korea as part of the military's contingency planning, meaning that to this day Park Geun-hye's delivery is considered somewhat slow and minimally functional, coupled with a poor memory of events.

Further disaster struck five years later when the General President himself was assassinated. The Ice Princess project was canceled and Park Geun-hye was switched off and placed into a storage closet at a Ministry of Defense facility located in Daegu. There are several conflicting accounts of what happened next, but one popular version of events relates how – in the chaos of the break-up of the military-backed dictatorship in 1987, supporters of General President Park Chung-hee bribed officials at the facility, got Park Geun-hye out of the closet and reactivated her before escaping.

What is certain is that once switched back on, the Ice Princess prototype reverted to her original programming to seek power and protect her father even though the regime she was built to serve was gone, and she was elected as an assemblywoman for the GNP – the successor party to the Democratic Republican Party founded by her father. Experts suggest that – incredibly – this may mean Park Geun-hye has evolved beyond her basic programming and is now seeking revenge by restoring his vision and legacy, despite the cancer of freedom which has been allowed to take root in South Korea since the liberal democratic coup plotters overthrew the rightful government.

There have been missteps on the presidential campaign trail. The android's closest aides were overheard describing South Korea's left-leaning smartphone generation as 'electric sheep'. In one speech, Park told an audience of supporters "I stand before you today with a simple dream, a dream to kill all humans". A spokesman later said Park has 'misspoken', and had meant to say "help", not "kill". But the crowd had applauded anyway and the mainstream media agreed that covering the story would be discriminatory while contributing to inflaming human-robot tensions. The following week, Park told the media she supported her father's "bloody record of civilian suppression", before a spokesman said she actually meant she shared some of her father's musical tastes. The incident led to one of the campaign's lighter moments, when Park Geun-hye sang to supporters at an impromptu event, although it was later said to have been staged.

For many years Park Geun-hye's robotic tendencies have been one of Seoul's worst-kept political secrets, but even when she stood for president opposition figures proved reluctant to out her, as many of their own supporters are supportive of robot-rights. Satirical newspaper The Korea Times came closest to revealing Park's secret to the public earlier this year when – in a tantalizing article entitled "If Park shows some leg" - it called for her to wear short skirts, knowing that the artificial skin above her comfortable shoes only extends up to her knees, after which she is bare metal.

Rumors about her non-human orientation have refused to die like one of her father's enemies however, as people noted her failure to marry and have offspring, while the robot president-elect has had to say she is married to the country, foregoing any chance at happiness that might come from being with another robot. But generally – despite having little in common with them and no empathy to their plight whatsoever - she has been accepted by women despite being a skin job, demonstrating the vision of a dictator who was careful to build a successor with a gender that could never directly threaten him, but which one day in a more decadent future could still seize power if necessary.

It is still not known if Park Geun-hye will openly come out as a robot during her presidency, as officially she has been careful to portray herself as being against robot-rights, but supporters can only hope that over the following decades, as her power solidifies, a more tolerant and understanding society will grow to accept the cold-hearted and calculating machine as the true successor to the highly popular dictator who created her.

Related Links
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Park Geun-hye Apologizes for Father's Dictatorial Rule
[Special Feature] Park Geun-hye’s past and future
First Episode of South Korea Park Animated Comedy Causes Outrage
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If Park shows some leg
Female Presidential Candidate Should "Show Some Leg" - Korea Times
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