With record number turn out in protest of Korea’s president Park Geun-Hye, here are 26 facts about Korea’s current president.
1. Park Geun-Hye is the first female Korean president.
2 She was born on the 2nd of February 1952 in Daegu, South Korea.
3. Park and her family moved to Seoul in 1953.
4. She graduated from Sogang University in Seoul, Korea with an electronic engineering degree.
5. In 2014, Forbes ranked Park Geun-Hye as the 46th most powerful person in the world, the third highest Korean on the list just behind Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee and Samsung electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-Yong.
6. Business insider ranked her as the 12th most powerful person in Asia.
7. In 2013, Time magazine named her as one of the most influential person of the year.
8. Park Geun-Hye has two siblings, sister Park Geun-Ryoung and brother Park Ji-man.
9. Park’s father was a dictator and seized power through a military coup. He ruled Korea from 1961 ~ 1979, for 18 years.
10. Park’s mother was murdered in 1974 by a North Korean spy, and her father was assassinated in 1979, after which she become the first lady of Korea at a very young age of 22.
11. Park briefly studied at the University of Grenoble but had to drop out after the killing of her mother.
12. She returned to the city in June 2016 to promote hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
13. She also received an honorary degree at the prestigious University Pierre and Marie Curie in France as she is credited with improving ties between Korea and France. In doing so, she became the first foreign president to receive an honorary degree at any French university. Nationally, she has received honorary degrees from KAIST (Daejeon), Sogang Universty (Seoul) and Pukyong National University (Busan).
14. On the 19th of December, 2012, Park made history winning 51.6% of the presidential votes, compared to her opponent Moon Jae-In’s 48%, making her Korea’s first female president.
15. During her presidential campaign, she promised to be corruption free as she has no family of her own as most (Korean) politicians enrich their families once in office. She famously said “I have no family to take care of and no children to pass wealth to”
16. Dong-A Ilbo, a major South Korean newspaper called Park’s campaign promises as “nothing more than empty promises without feasible financing methods.”
17. President Park is single and has never been married because in her own words, decided to “devote herself to her country”.
18. Her long time friend Choi Soonsil and daughter of Park’s mentor Choi Tae-Min – leader of a religious cult – has been charged and indicted on charges of using her connection with President Park for personal and financial gain.
19. President Park has also been accused of mishandling and mismanaging classified documents which she owned up to in her first televised apology on the scandal. The details of the scandal were beautifully written and explained by a Korean blogger here.
20. Due to this corruption, millions of Koreans have been protesting against President Park for six consecutive weeks, asking her to step down from office. On Saturday, December 3rd, 2016, an estimated 1.7 million Koreans came out to protest at Gwangwhamun, a record high in Korea.
21. She agreed to step down from office if recommended during her speech broadcasted nationally and internationally on the 29th of November, 2016 amid the corruption scandal she is facing.
22. Amid this scandal, her approval ratings stand at 1%, an all-time low in the country’s history.
23. Many Koreans are angry at President Park and her administration about the 2014 Sewol Ferry tragedy as the president was nowhere to be found in the first seven hours the ship was sinking. This has turned into a conspiracy theory in Korea as many speculate she was occupied with bizarre occultic rituals.
24. President Park is an atheist.
25. In 2007, she lost the nominee pick of her party Green National Party to eventual (former) Korean President Lee Myung Bak.
26. Park visited the US and President Obama for the first time as President in May 2013 and in November of the same year, she held a summit with President Putin of Russia.
27. Despite her father Park Chung-Hee being a dictator, he is loved by millions of South Koreans, especially the older generations and he is credited with bringing many positive changes to Korea. Park once said “My father was criticized as a dictator, but that should not overshadow his accomplishments in restructuring the country. He brought Korea out of 5,000 years of poverty. What he left unaccomplished was [the] democratization of the system.” about her father.
28. During her presidential campaign, Park told her supporters “I want to be judged on my own merits” and not that of her father’s.
29. Prosecutors say Choi Soonsil, the woman behind President Park’s scandal, used her connections with the president to extort and/or accumulate as much as $70 million from major Korean companies.
30. Korean cable network JTBC broke the news of the scandal in October after an unencrypted tablet PC belonging to Choi Soonsil was found in her abandoned office building.
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