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HER STORY

A trusted politician who makes her actions match her words and keeps her promises

As a politician, President Park Geun-hye has always cherished trust and keeping her promises. These values have been most important to her in her life and in her career.

She was born during the Korean War in 1952. Her father was Park Chung-hee, who in 1963 became President of the country and led the Miracle on the Hangang River. Her mother, Yook Young-soo, was beloved and respected when she became First Lady. From the example of her father, President Park Geun-hye learned love of country and mental fortitude. From her mother, she learned warm regard for others and a lifestyle of diligence and frugality.

In 1974, she graduated at the top of her class with a major in electronic engineering from Sogang University, Seoul. Then in August, she left Korea to study at the University of Grenoble, France, in preparation for her dream job : teaching. A month had not even passed when she received an urgent message to return to Korea at once. When she arrived at the airport, the headline of one of the papers caught her eye. She froze on the spot. Above the photo of her mother, it read, “Assassinated.” This was how she first learned of her mother’s tragic death.

Only a week later, she took up the role of acting First Lady ; she was only 22 years old. As the First Lady for five years, she accompanied her father on his visits to numerous sites in the countryside, as well as on his frequent official tours overseas. She also received foreign envoys.

After President Park Chung-hee was assassinated, she spent the next 18 years in quiet contemplation and in serving the disadvantaged. What triggered her entry into politics was a feeling of desperation over the foreign currency crisis that engulfed the country in 1997. She thought, “Korea was built with so many sacrifices by everyone and cannot go under like this.” In April 1998, she ran on the Grand National Party ticket in a by-election in Daegu and became a member of the National Assembly. From then on, she won a total of five consecutive general elections in the district.

In 2002 and again in 2011, she took over the helm of the Grand National Party at times when it was in crisis and in danger of being sidelined and made it the majority party. In 2011, the party name was changed to Saenuri (New Frontier). These efforts based on her determination to win the trust of the public by making her actions match her words, keeping her promises and focusing the party's efforts on policies were considered political miracles. They also made her a strong candidate for president.

On December 19, 2012, she was elected President of the country - the first female President in Northeast Asia. She was inaugurated on February 25, 2013.