South Korea’ President-elect Pledges to Work For People’s Livelihoods

Posted December 19th, 2012 at 6:15 pm (UTC-5)
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South Korea's president-elect Park Geun-hye [pronounced: park goon-'HEH] has pledged to keep her campaign promises and work for the livelihood and unity of the nation's people.

The conservative five-term lawmaker held a rally in the capital, Seoul, after her election victory Wednesday. She said the competition was tough, but that her victory belongs to everyone.

The election was a contest between Ms. Park who heads the conservative ruling Saenuri Party, and Moon Jae-in, the chief of the center-left Democratic United Party.

Election officials say that with almost all of the votes counted, she won 51.6 percent of the vote compared to 48 percent for her opponent.

U.S. President Barack Obama congratulated Ms. Park Wednesday and said he is looking forward to working closely with her administration on issues of mutual concern.

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon, South Korea's former foreign minister, issued a statement expressing hope for “even more active engagement” by South Korea in U.N. efforts to promote sustainable development, global peace and human rights, and fight against climate change.

Ms. Park will be the first woman to lead her country.

Moon conceded the race shortly after the National Election Commission was quoted as saying Ms. Park was a certain winner. He is a liberal human rights lawyer who was once jailed under the administration run by Ms. Park's father, the late dictator Park Chung-hee.

Ms. Park's father, who ruled the country for 18 years, is both admired for dragging the country out of poverty and reviled for his suppression of dissent. He was assassinated in 1979.

Despite frigid cold, voter turnout in this election was high. It was measured at close to 76 percent, surpassing the turnout of the previous two presidential elections.

Both candidates have promised to ease South Korea's income gap between rich and poor, which has widened during President Lee Myung-bak's five years in office.

Ms. Park has pledged dialogue with North Korea, but has taken a tougher stance on Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs than her opponent.