Conservative candidate Park Geun-hye, the daughter of former president Park Chung-hee, claimed victory Wednesday in South Korea’s presidential election, a result that will make her the country’s first woman president. Park will assume office in February 2013, in a country grappling with income inequality, angst over education and employment prospects for its youth, and strained relations with North Korea.
Polls showed that North-South relations ranked fifth in the most salient issues to the Korean public, falling far behind job creation, economic issues and education.
Less than 10% prioritized relations with Pyongyang, according to polls. “Threat perception overall toward North Korea has somewhat waned,” said Jong Kun Choi, an associate professor of political sciences and international studies at Yonsei University in Seoul.
After the announcement of North Korea’s missile launch, about half of the respondents in a poll said they expected the rocket to have no effect in the election. “It used to be the case that a major blow from North Korea would critically affect South Korea’s election. However, this may not have a major impact as it used to be, because first of all, we are so used to it,” Choi said.
Steve Chung, who has examined the North Korean factor in South Korean presidential elections in the last two decades, said he observed that the regime is “less and less important” in this election compared with previous ones. “This year, the inter-Korea atmosphere is not as strong,” said Chung, a PhD candidate in the department of Korean studies at the university of Sydney.
South Koreans have become used to provocation from their neighbor, said Choi. “It’s been going on for the last 20 years, despite so many sporadic skirmishes, virtually nothing has happened,” he said.
Park’s policy of engaging with North Korea may not differ much from Lee’s, said Christopher Green, manager of international affairs for DailyNK, which covers North Korea. Even if Seoul was to implement a policy of unrestricted aid for North Korea, there is little guarantee that the regime would respond.
Tags: north korea, Park Geun-hye, South Korea
This entry was posted in DPRK Government by Grant Montgomery.