Today South Koreans voted to elect their new president for the next five years. As of writing this, the race is too close to call. However, several exit polls have projected the conservative candidate, Park Geun-hye, as the winner. Park Geun-hye’s background is interesting for the fact of who her father is.
Her father, Park Chung-hee, became the third president of Korea after staging a military coup d’état in 1961. He ran the country as a strong and dominating president until he was assassinated by the director of the Korean CIA in 1979.
Due to his power and influence over events in modern Korean history, Park Chung-hee plays a key role in Sedae Chai. Whether the people interviewed for Sedae Chai are political or not, everyone has an opinion of him. Some view his strong presidency as a necessary evil that was needed to lift Korea out of poverty, others despise him for his authoritarian government and abuse of human rights. These conflicts still carry out today, and are highlighted by the recent election.
Between the two main candidates (that are numerous names on the ballot though):
Park Geun-hye is the daughter of the late president.
Moon Jae-in, the more liberal candidate, was imprisoned in the 1970s for protesting against Park Chung-hee.
While the ballots are still being counted, the exit polls show a strong divide with the age demographic. Older generations (50+) that look fondly at the massive economic growth that occurred in the 70s, greatly voted for the late president’s daughter. Younger generations (30s and below), overwhelmingly voted for the liberal candidate Moon. Then people around their 40s were fairly split, with a slight nod to Moon.
This is of course a common trend in many nations; however, at least compared to my home country (USA), the results are not nearly this stark.
During the interviews in Sedae Chai you will hear much about the late president Park Chung-hee, and the wide range of thoughts and opinions around him. Love him or hate him, he lived a fascinating life that I highly recommend you read about.