Childhood & Early Life
Park Geun-hye was born in on February 2, 1952, Taegu in North Gyeongsang, South Korea in the family of Park Chung-hee and Yuk Young-soo as their first child among three children. Her father was the 3rd President, military general and dictator of South Korea.
Her family moved to Seoul in 1953 where she spent her younger days in the South Korean presidential palace, the ‘Blue House’. In 1970 she graduated from ‘Sacred Heart Girls’ High School’ in Seoul.
She studied electronic engineering in ‘Sogang University’ and received her bachelor’s degree in 1974. She studied for a while in the ‘Grenoble University’ in France but following an assassination attempt on her father on August 15, 1974 in the ‘National Theater of Korea’, Seoul, that killed her mother, she returned to South Korea. The assassination was executed by Mun Se-gwang, a member of the ‘General Association of Korean Residents in Japan’.
Thereafter Park Geun-hye played the part of the first lady until 1979 when her father was assassinated on October 26, 1979 by Kim Jae-gyu, the chief of ‘Korean Central Intelligence Agency’ (now known as ‘National Intelligence Service’).
In 1987 the Chinese Culture University, in Taipei, Taiwan honoured her with an Honorary Doctorate in Literature.
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For four consecutive terms starting from 1998 she served the ‘Korean National Assembly’ as a member of the ‘Grand National Party’, representing the constituency of Dalseong, Daegu.
She became the vice chairman of the ‘Grand National Party’ in 1998.
During the period 2004-2006 she twice became the chairperson of the party and played an instrumental role in election efforts that saw the party overcome several odds to achieve significant electoral gains in local elections. In the 2006 elections the party acquired majority. The media gave her the epithet, “Queen of Elections”.
In 2007 she lost to Lee Myung-bak as the presidential nominee of the ‘Grand National Party’.
In 2008 she received Honorary Doctorate in Science from ‘KAIST’ in Daejeon, South Korea and Honorary Doctorate in Politics from ‘Pukyong National University’ in Busan, South Korea.
In 2010 the ‘Sogang University’ in Seoul, South Korea bestowed her with Honorary Doctorate in Politics.
An ad hoc emergency committee was formed by the ‘Grand National Party’ in 2011 and on December 19, 2011, she was made the head of the committee. During 2011-2012 she remained the chairperson of the party.
In February 2012 the ‘Grand National Party’ was re-christened as the ‘Saenuri Party’ and that year she served her fifth term in the ‘Korean National Assembly’ as a proportional representative starting from June 2012.
The ‘Saenuri Party’ nominated her as their presidential candidate in August 2012 for the December 2012 presidential election. The centre-left ‘Democratic United Party’ candidate Moon Jae-In, a former human rights lawyer who protested and faced confinement during her father’s rule in the 70s emerged as her prime contender.
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On December 19, 2012 she won the presidential election and on February 25, 2013 she made history by becoming the first woman President of South Korea. The vision of her government is "a new era of hope and happiness".
The administrative objectives of the new government includes "creativity-oriented education and cultural enrichment", "a jobs-cantered creative economy", "tailored employment and welfare", "strong security measures for sustainable peace on the Korean Peninsula" and "a safe and united society".
In order to take forward her administrative vision and objectives, she made radical changes including restructuring of the ‘Blue House’. While the position of ‘Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs’ was renewed, several offices including that of the ‘Ministry of Science’, ‘Office of National Security’ at the Blue House and that of ‘ICT and Future Planning’ were set up.
She visited the United States in May 2013 and met President Barack Obama. The two leaders had bilateral meeting on various developmental and cooperation issues focusing on advancement of both economies. While over 20,000 U.S. military men are posted in South Korea, she views the strategic alliance of both the nations as the most fruitful one.
While addressing a joint session of the US congress, she appealed for a united front to counter challenges imposed by North Korea. She continues to maintain a close association with the US as many of her predecessors.
Though North Korea violated a resolution of ‘UN Security Council’ and posed several challenges for South Korea, she remained committed to undertake policy coordination along with the likes of the United Nations, the US and China concerning North Korea.
She visited China in June 2013 and met President Xi Jinping. She garnered support of the President after clarifying South Korea’s stand on issues related to North Korea.
She held a summit on November 13, 2013 with the Russian President Vladimir Putin during his visit to South Korea. The two leaders had an extensive and dynamic discourse centred on strengthening of economic and political developments.
To realise her vision of invigorating economy along with creation of new jobs, she declared her objective of building a ‘Creative Economy’ on June 5, 2013.
Park Geun-hye and Tony Abbott, the Prime Minister of Australia, signed the ‘Australia Korea Free Trade Agreement’ on April 8, 2014.
In March 2015 South Korea applied to officially join the ‘Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’ and on May 26, 2015 she approached the chief of ‘Asian Development Bank’ to be in cooperation with the ‘Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’ as also with South Korea.
She has expressed to eliminate “Four Major Social Evils”, encompassing unsafe food, domestic violence, sexual violence and school violence, as one of the social agendas of the nation.
A ‘National Unity Committee’ was set up by her that will act as an advisory to the president in resolving societal conflicts of the nation thus fostering an environment of co-prosperity and co-existence.