Saenuri Party presidential candidate Park Geun-hye is moving to soften her image by associating herself with her deceased mother Yuk Young-soo, cherished by many Koreans as a calm, mild and wise first lady.
Yuk, wife of former president Park Chung-hee, was shot by a North Korean agent in 1974.
While keeping hold of elderly conservative voters who feel nostalgia for her father’s leadership, the move by the Saenuri Party frontrunner may also help pacify critics of his military dictatorship by reminding them of Yuk.
Late mother to Rep. Park Geun-hye and former first lady Yuk Young-soo is seen with her late husband, former President Park Chung-hee, in this file photo. (The Korea Herald DB)
“It was my mother’s dream to build a country in which the underprivileged may realize their dream, and her dream is now mine,” the former party chief said last Wednesday at her mother’s memorial ceremony.
Park’s official website also featured a large black and white picture of the former first lady, looking similar to her daughter.
Rep. Park has avoided publicly praising her controversial father since she came under fire late last month for her positive assessment of his 1961 armed revolt.
In a conference with news editors, she said the May 16 incident was not a coup but an inevitable choice for the sake of the nation.
Having previously said her father was her role model, she said in a televised debate show last week, that England’s Queen Elizabeth I is her political role model.
Park’s aides took this change as a positive sign, indicating that the presidential hopeful has decided to respond flexibly to public feedback ahead of the year-end election.
“The top priority task for Rep. Park is to achieve communication and harmony,” said an official of her election camp.
“In this sense, the former first lady Yuk is an ideal role model.”
By Bae Hyun-jung (firstname.lastname@example.org)