And you thought your Monday was going to be tough

by Leila Dayne


Park Geun-hye will be sworn in today as South Korea’s first female President. A daunting task in and of itself, but add to that the growing problems they are facing with North Korea (and their “IDGAFOS” attitude about testing underground nuclear devices just barely two weeks ago), the growing gap and unrest in her own country between the rich and the poor and the cherry on top, returning to the presidential mansion (the Blue House, I seriously did not make that up.) where she grew up with her dictator father. An event which was marred by tragedy when she was forced to return home from school in Paris at the age of 22 to return to Seoul to act as President Park Chung-hee’s first lady after an assassin targeting her father instead killed her mother; finally leaving five years later after her father was shot and killed by his spy chief during a drinking party.

From CBS News (because they could do a much better political write-up than I can) :

Park’s first weeks in office will be complicated by North Korea’s warning of unspecified “second and third measures of greater intensity,” a threat that comes as Washington and others push for tightened U.N. sanctions as punishment for the Feb. 12 atomic test, the North’s third since 2006. 

“The overall policy direction on North Korea among the U.S., Japan and South Korea will be hers to decide,” said Victor Cha, a former senior Asia adviser to President George W. Bush. “If Park Geun-hye wants to contain, the U.S. will support that. But if Park Geun-hye, months down the road, wants to engage, then the U.S. will go along with that too. “

 

Her father was a staunch anti-communist who made no secret of his antipathy toward Pyongyang during his 18-year rule in the 1960s and ’70s. In 1968, 31 North Korean commandos staged a failed raid on the Blue House that ended with nearly all of them dead. In 1974, Park’s wife was shot and killed by a Japan-born Korean claiming he was acting on assassination orders by North Korea founder and then leader Kim Il Sung.

 

Critics say Park Geun-hye’s North Korea policy lacks specifics. They also question how far she can go given her conservative base’s strong anti-Pyongyang sentiments.

But Park has previously confounded ideological expectations. She travelled to Pyongyang in 2002 and held private talks with the late Kim Jong Il, the father of Kim Jong Un, and her gifts to Kim Jong Il are showcased in a museum of gifts to the North Korean leaders. During the often contentious presidential campaign, she responded to liberal criticism by reaching out to the families of victims of her father’s dictatorship.

She said in her 2007 autobiography that she visited Pyongyang because she thought her painful experiences with the North made her “the one who could resolve South-North relations better than anyone else.” She also wrote that Kim Jong Il apologized for the 1968 attack.

 

Pyongyang sees the nuclear crisis as a U.S.-North Korea issue, Delury said. “From a North Korean mindset, ramping up the tension and hostility with the U.S. does not equal jettisoning relations with the South.”

Park may take a wait-and-see stance in coming months.

Analyst Hong Hyun-ik at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea predicts that the United States will seek nuclear talks with North Korea in a few months, something that could help Park’s efforts to engage North Korea. 

“The nuclear test sets back and complicates but does not necessarily doom her engagement efforts over the long-term,” said Ralph Cossa, president of Pacific Forum CSIS, a Hawaii-based think tank.

Park warned after the test that North Korea faces international isolation, economic difficulties and, eventually, a collapse if it continues to build its atomic program. But she also pressed Pyongyang to respond to her overtures.

“We can’t achieve trust with only one side’s efforts,” she said.

Yeah, so when you’re feeling down today about your work load, be thankful that you don’t have to face all of those problems. But it is very exciting to see the empowerment and drive of this women. I look forward to seeing how things play out and how she handles it.

Happy Monday all!!

All My Love,

LD