Daughter of Late South Korean Dictator Seeks Presidency

Posted July 10th, 2012 at 6:50 am (UTC-5)
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South Korea's Park Geun-hye has formally launched her campaign for president of the country her father, the late Park Chung-hee, once ruled with an iron fist.

The 60-year-old Park made her announcement Tuesday in Seoul in front of crowd of cheering supporters.

“I am here, determined that I will devote my life to the happiness of all our people. I, Park Geun-hye, declare that I will run for the 18th Presidency!''

Ms. Park is seeking the nomination of the ruling conservative New Frontier Party for the second time, having lost to incumbent President Lee Myung-bak in 2007. Mr. Lee is barred by law from seeking a second term.

Ms. Park pledged to improve economic fairness for all South Koreans, while also promising to remove unnecessary regulations on the country's business sector. She also offered a pledge to improve relations with bitter rival North Korea.

''I will go forward with the Korean Peninsula trust process. I will seek more stable inter-Korea relations, and create the conditions for North Korea to become a responsible member of the international community, based on trust between South and North Korea, and international cooperation, which we will build upon the people's consensus. We will strengthen national security and efforts to try and solve the North Korean nuclear issue. I will also establish an integrated diplomatic security control tower, which can efficiently respond to a new security environment.''

Relations between the North and South have worsened since Mr. Lee first took office and took a harder line towards Pyongyang.

Ms. Park is expected to win the nomination when the party convenes next month. Recent voter opinion polls show her well ahead of her potential rivals in the December general election.

Her father, a high-ranking military officer, took power of South Korea after a coup in 1961, and remained in control until he was assassinated in 1979 by his intelligence chief. Her mother was gunned down five years earlier by a North Korean-backed assassin.