on Recent South Korean Presidential Election
Donald P Gregg, U.S. Ambassador to South Korea, 1989-1993
Park Geun Hye, the daughter of Park
Chung Hee, will become South Korea's first female president. I think this is
good news for the US.
The entire election spoke well of
Korea. Two excellent candidates were put forward, and the Koreans voted
peacefully and in very large numbers. I know Park quite well, and think very
highly of her. In 2001 she visited Pyongyang and spoke at length with the late
Kim Jong-Il, with whom she said she felt quite comfortable. I met her in Seoul
in 2002, and complimented her for going to North Korea, given the fact that the
North Koreans twice tried to kill her father, and did kill her mother in 1974.
Her reply was impressive "We must look to the future with hope, not to the
past with bitterness."
The next year I invited her to speak
at The Korea Society in New York, and went with her when she spoke at Columbia
University. She was most impressive on both occasions. She has said she will
negotiate with Kim Jung Un, the new leader of North Korea, and I believe she
will. When she does, she will speak as a conservative leader, in the same way
that Nixon spoke as a conservative when he reached out to China.
Park is a strong believer in the US
South Korean alliance, and I believe that President Obama will find her a good
partner with whom to work out an effective policy of re-engagement with North
Donald P. Gregg