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Is South Korea ready for "Madam President"?

Published on Dec 12, 2012 7:13 AM
Park Geun-hye attends a national convention of the ruling Saenuri Party in Goyang, north of Seoul in this August 20, 2012 file photo. Conservative and right wing Park is the daughter of late South Korean military dictator Park Chung-hee who took power in a military coup in 1961 and ruled until his assassination in 1979. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (REUTERS) - If Park Geun Hye wins South Korea's presidential election this month, as looks increasingly likely, she will become the first woman to hold the country's top office, challenging stereotypes in a nation that is largely run by men in blue suits.

A conservative who has 15 years experience as a top legislator and who has been dubbed "The Queen of Elections" for turning around the fortunes of her political party in a series of polls, Park says she took to politics to help save her country from the devastating Asian financial crisis of 1997-98.

Ms Park, 60, is the daughter of South Korean dictator Park Chung-hee and has never married or had children, something her opponents have sought to highlight in a bid to cut back her lead in the polls ahead of the Dec 19 vote.

"Candidate Park has no femininity. She has never lived a life agonising over childbirth, childcare, education and grocery prices," Park Kwang On, a spokesman for her left-of-centre opponent, Moon Jae In, said recently.

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