By Greg Rushford
During her successful campaign to become South Korea’s first female president, Park Geun-hye projected intelligence and a calm strength under pressure. She’s sure going to need those qualities.
Imagine walking into such a job. Since her December election triumph, the Korean won has appreciated so much vis a vis the Japanese yen that the value of Korea’s exports — which amount to about a third of Korea’s GDP — could fall this year by six percent, or even more. Projections on new Korean domestic job creation this year are pessimistic. Not to mention the continuing threats from a hostile, impoverished North Korea, which announced earlier today that it had successfully tested a “miniaturized atom bomb,” while working on missiles that could reach the U.S. west coast. It’s a good guess that Park, who turned 61 last week, has been way too busy to enjoy a proper birthday party.
Too busy, perhaps, to think everything through properly. Even before the president-elect will be sworn into office on Feb. 25, she has run into several political controversies. The Korean press has criticized her presidential transition committee for being overly secretive. Her first choice for prime minister had to step down when questions were raised about his ethics and finances. And President-elect Park has set off a firestorm in the National Assembly by picking a fight with Korea’s respected Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. This fight with Mofat’s diplomats — which is widely interpreted overseas as both unnecessary and unhelpful — has caused great consternation. Indeed, Park has given worried Korean trading partners good reason to ask whether South Korea’s trade relations under her administration will be headed, well, south. Read the rest of this article »