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China Daily Website

Park wins close ROK election

Updated: 2012-12-20 01:58
By Zhang Yunbi and Li Xiaokun ( China Daily)

First female president to enhance relations with China, analysts say

Park Geun-hye, the daughter of a former president of the Republic of Korea, won a hard-fought election on Wednesday to become the country's first female president.

Her victory is "undoubtedly good news" for Seoul's relations with Beijing, and relations between Pyongyang and Seoul should improve, experts said.

Park wins close ROK election

Victorious Park Geun-hye acknowledges her supporters on Wednesday in Seoul. BAE JUNG-HYUN / REUTERS

Park had a slight edge over Moon Jae-in, son of refugees from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. She won just over 50 percent of the vote.

The ROK limits presidents to a single five-year term and Park will replace Lee Myung-bak on Feb 25.

Park, 60, will return to the Blue House, where she served as her father's first lady in the 1970s after her mother was assassinated.

Park said that her victory would help her country's economy recover, Reuters reported.

"This is a victory brought by the people's hope for overcoming crisis and economic recovery," she told supporters in Seoul.

Park wins close ROK election

Park Geun-hye, ROK's presidential candidate of the conservative ruling Saenuri Party, casts her ballot at a polling station in Seoul, Dec 19, 2012. [Photo/Xinhua]

Voter turnout, nearly 80 percent, was the highest in 15 years. Huge crowds lined up in bitterly cold weather to choose between the two candidates. Both distanced themselves from Lee's policies, even though Park is a five-term legislator for Lee's party.

Young and old voters alike stood in line despite the freezing cold on Wednesday, a national holiday. Electric stoves inside polling stations provided warmth.

Park's base is composed mainly of older voters who remember with fondness what they see as the firm economic and security guidance of her father, Park Chung-hee.

"I believe in Park,'' Choi Yong-ja, a 59-year-old housekeeper, told AP as she left a polling station at a Seoul school. "She has the political experience.''

Some voters were unsatisfied with Lee's policies, including his hard-line stance on Pyongyang.

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