The Presidents: Park Geun-hye vs. Megawati Sukarnoputri

Living in South Korea, I can’t help but to involve myself in observing the social and political situation in here. And as you know it if you live in South Korea (I’ll just say Korea from now on, I mean, why do I want to discuss North Korean politics anyway?), they just had their presidential election day last year on December 19, just two days before the foretold end of Mayan calendar. Oh shit, IT IS THE END OF MAYAN CALENDAR! NO! That will be bad for Mayan calendar sales figure. I think.

Mayan Calendar Joke“Haha. Jokes on you, future earth dwellers!”

Anyway, the elected president is Park Geun-hye. She won over other candidate, Moon Jae-in. Park Geun-hye will assume office on February 2013 and she will be the FIRST female president of Korea. Knowing the fact that she is the first female president of Korea, I can’t help but to remind myself of Megawati Sukarnoputri, our own first female president who was the head of Indonesia from July 2001 until October 2004. And just by reading their facts in Wikipedia, I found some eerie similarities between these two female presidents. And I’ll talk about it in points below.

1. Daughters of Leaders

125px-compareRuns in the blood. Like fathers, like daughters.

Yep. Both Park Geun-hye and Megawati are the daughters of former presidents of their respective countries. Park Geun-hye is the daughter of Park Chung-hee, the 3rd president of Korea; while Megawati is the daughter of Sukarno, Indonesia’s 1st president. Both of them have tasted the life in presidential houses and services in their younger years. Megawati entertained presidential guests with dances, while Park Geun-hye accompanied presidential guests when she took the role of First Lady after her mother’s assassination.

2. Dad’s Loss of Power and Incubation

PCH vs KJK - Sukarno vs SuhartoLeft to right: Park Chung-hee, Kim Jae-kyu, Sukarno, Suharto

If you want to look at history, both of their fathers were forcefully dethroned. While Sukarno was elaborately forced to resign by series of unfortunate events (for him), Park Chung-hee experienced worse removal from the presidency. He was assassinated. The unique note in both events is that Sukarno and Park Chung-hee were removed from power by their supposedly close colleagues. Sukarno was removed from power by Suharto, who was his Chief of The Army at that time; and Park Chung-hee was shot dead by Kim Jae-kyu in 1979, who was the Director of Korean CIA at that time. Both are the case of close friends who proved to become their undoing. After their dads’ loss of presidency, both Park Geun-hye and Megawati were then forced to go behind the curtain of politics.

3. The Rise to Power

188px-MS_PGHWomen of politics with strange connections

After the fall of the regime of their dad’s adversaries, both women picked up pace and gained political momentum. In 1998, Park Geun-hye was elected as assemblywoman for Dalseong, Daegu. By this time, Megawati has already gained enough political influence that she was nominated as presidential candidate. In a somewhat similar way, both women brought their parties to achieve good political standing. Park Geun-hye led her party well after they got struck by corruption scandal by their former presidential candidate, earning a significant support in the midst of unhealthy inner condition of the party. Megawati also earned a superb support for her party during her political campaign. In total, it took Megawati 14 years from her being a member of a legislative body to a president. Guess how many years it took for Park Geun-hye from being assemblywoman to president? If you guess 14 years, you are right. Both of these women took approximately 14 years from their first significant appearance in political scene to the peak of their political career.

So there you have it. My elaboration of the similarities of Park Geun-hye and Megawati Sukarnoputri. In short, these are the similarities that I find to be very fascinating:

  1. They are both the daughters of former presidents.
  2. Their fathers were removed from power forcefully.
  3. They arguably thrived from their fathers’ image.
  4. They both took approximately 14 years in their political career to achieve presidency.
  5. Since the forceful removal of their fathers, it took them both 34 years before they became president.
  6. They are both the first female president of each country.

Coincidence? That is the only thing I can think of. Though it is an eerie coincidence for me.