South Korea's ruling party candidate Park Geun-hye was elected the country's first female president Wednesday. She will be the first female head of state in East Asia.
Park's victory for the New Frontier Party marks two noticeable breakthroughs. First, Park, a single woman who has never been married, managed to win the race against Democratic United Party candidate Moon Jae-in, despite South Korea's prevailing gender inequality.
The other breakthrough involves Park's identity as the daughter of the late dictator Park Chung-hee. Her win demonstrates that her background did not have much negative effect on the election result.
Based on these facts, the election has been described as a showdown between the old and the new, the conservative and the liberal, and the left and the right. It was of course also a war between a man and a woman.
Lying ahead of Park are several severe challenges, one of which is widespread public resentment stemming from her country's widening income gap. Others also include the employment difficulties faced by young people and the heavy financial burden faced by South Korean families.
On the diplomatic front, Park will need to deal with South Korea's territorial dispute with Japan over the Takeshima Islands, facing a new Japanese government led by a hawkish, right-leaning Liberal Democratic Party.
Now that history has given Park the chance, it's time for her to prove herself. (Editorial abstract -- Dec. 20, 2012)
(By Y.F. Low)