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Dictator's daughter elected South Korean president

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20780282 19 December 2012 Last updated at 10:19 ET South Korea election: Park Geun-hye defeats Moon Jae-in Ms Park
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 19, 2012

      19 December 2012 Last updated at 10:19 ET

      South Korea election: Park Geun-hye defeats Moon Jae-in

      Presidential candidates Park Geun-hye (L) and Moon Jae-in (R), pictured on 19 December 2012Ms Park defeated her liberal rival, Mr Moon, by a narrow margin

      South Korea's President-elect, Park Geun-hye, has said her victory will help the country's economy recover.
      Ms Park, the daughter of former dictator Park Chung-hee, defeated her liberal rival Moon Jae-in. She will be South Korea's first female leader.
      Votes are still being counted, but Mr Moon has admitted defeat. Turnout was high in a poll dominated by economic and social welfare issues.
      Ms Park will replace her party colleague Lee Myung-bak.
      He is stepping down as the law requires after his five-year term.
      Park Geun-hye's win means that South Korea now has its first female president. In a country where rapid modernisation exists alongside ancient Confucian values, many people are saying her election will prompt real social change.
      Ms Park has already served as South Korea's first lady, after her mother was assassinated in the 1970s. Now she's won a stint in her father's role, she'll face loud demands to reform the big family conglomerates he created, whilst protecting the country's modern economy from the effects of the global slowdown.
      Supporters of her liberal rival, Moon Jae-in, have accused Ms Park of belonging to the past, and of having little understanding of the rough and tumble of modern democratic government.
      With the country having split almost equally along party lines in this election, Park Geun-hye will have to work hard to improve relations with her detractors here at home.
      Combined figures from the networks released after polls closed gave Ms Park 50.1% of the vote over Mr Moon's 48.9%.
      "This is a victory brought by the people's hope for overcoming crisis and economic recovery," she told supporters in the capital Seoul.
      From the moment polls opened at 06:00 on Wednesday (21:00 GMT on Tuesday), millions of South Koreans queued to cast their ballots despite freezing temperatures.
      Ms Park's supporters cheered as poll figures emerged.
      Both bolstered and dogged by the legacy of her father, who built South Korea's economy while crushing dissent, she apologised in September for human rights abuses under his administration.
      Mr Moon of the Democratic United Party is a former human rights lawyer who served under former President Roh Moo-hyun. He was briefly jailed by Ms Park's father in the 1970s.
      Both candidates put forward broadly similar policies, promising to boost social welfare spending, close the gap between the rich and poor and rein in the family-run giant conglomerates known as chaebol.
      On the issue of North Korea, which did not feature heavily in the campaign despite its recent rocket launch, both candidates promised more engagement with Pyongyang - though, in Ms Park's case, more cautiously than her rival.
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