Daughter of S.Korea’s slain leader to bid for presidency
SEOUL, July 5 — The frontrunner to win South Korea's presidential elections, Park Geun-hye, the daughter of the country's slain dictator, is to announce her bid for the country's top job on July 10, her spokesman said today.
The 60-year-old, who has shifted her policies towards social welfare in a bid to attract younger voters, has a double-digit lead over her main rivals in most opinion polls.
She is the daughter of Park Chung-hee, who ruled South Korea from 1961 until his assassination by his intelligence chief in 1979 and who is credited with propelling this country of 50 million people from poverty into an Asian economic powerhouse.
But his legacy of political repression still divides the nation.
“She plans to declare on July 10 at Times Square (in Seoul), in an open space where a wide range of people pass through. She continues to deliberate on what her message will be,” said Park's spokesman Lee Sang-il.
Her conservative New Frontier Party is scheduled to hold its primary in August and South Korean voters go to the polls on Dec. 19 to pick a new leader, who will take office in February.
Park has led South Korea's conservatives three times and failed to win her party's presidential nomination in a bitter battle in 2007, when she lost to incumbent Lee Myung-bak, whose mandatory single term ends in 2012.
Initially a strong conservative who likened her economic policies to free-market British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, she has shifted to a more inclusive stance, although she has not spelled out the details of her new policies.
Park also advocates engaging with a hostile North Korea, in contrast to Lee's hardline stance. — Reuters