Experts have said that the election of South Korea's first openly female president has created a constitutional vacuum, even though it is not clear if Park Geun-hye will actually be doing the cleaning in the Blue House. The vacuuming issue was first raised during the election, when people asked how the candidate proposed to run the country and take care of her home at the same time, and some joked that Park was so busy she didn't always have time to cook and instead sometimes even had to resort to eating carpet.
But now that Park is about to seize power, further constitutional questions that extend beyond women's household responsibilities are being asked, such as who is supposed to perform the role of first lady when the president is a woman? A constitutional crisis could be averted though after it was revealed that sources close to former presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo are believed to have suggested that he may be willing to put his name forward for the position, although he is still considering it.
Making Ahn the first lady could be a political risk for Park, as many are likely to see him as the real head of Korean society because of his gender, even if he does no work in the position. Previously, when Korean presidents were officially male, first ladies – like most wives – were not expected to do any real work. For example Lee Myung-bak's wife's pet project was publicizing Korean cuisine to the dwindling number of world leaders who visited Korea. But it is not thought Ahn would be able to limit his conversations to just cooking and cleaning as first lady, and discussions would inevitably turn towards his 2017 election campaign.
Conversely, it has been noted that when Park was first lady herself under her General father's harsh but popular military-backed regime, she ran some projects looking after the needy, which might indicate she could be supportive of Ahn. But some say if Park picks a man as first lady, it is more likely to be Psy, who has global recognition and can at least sing to entertain foreign guests, even if his cooking and cleaning abilities are unknown quantities.
However, according to Park's transition team it is not certain that a male first lady is a legal option, as a woman may be needed at state functions in accordance with international diplomatic etiquettes and customs. As such, when such functions take place, Park may have to be accompanied by another woman at official events, or a variety of different women on these dates.
The election of Korea's first openly female president may also bring in other changes. It has been announced that the number of security guards at the presidential office is likely to be reduced during her term of office.
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