SEOUL - President Yoon Suk Yeol on Thursday honored late President Park Chung-hee while meeting his daughter, former President Park Geun-hye, at a memorial ceremony.
According to a new release by the Yonhap News Agency, this was the first time that a sitting South Korean president attended a memorial for Park Chung-hee, a figure whose legacy continues to be debated in South Korea.
Yoon praised the late president for his role in industrializing South Korea and for the economic development known as the "miracle on the Han River," which refers to the country's rise from the aftermath of the Korean War of 1950-53. Yoon suggested that the achievements of the former president should serve as an inspiration for current efforts to lead South Korea forward, particularly in times of global crisis.
Park Chung-hee came to power through a military coup in 1961 and governed for 18 years until his assassination in 1979. His rule is contentious, credited by some for South Korea's economic growth but criticized by others for his authoritarian governance.
The meeting between President Yoon and Park Geun-hye, the daughter of the late President Park, marks their first meeting in approximately 17 months and their third meeting overall. Their relationship traces back to 2016 when Yoon led an investigation into Park Geun-hye’s corruption scandal that resulted in her impeachment and imprisonment. She was pardoned in 2021 after nearly five years behind bars.
The gathering also comes at a time when there are calls for more unity within conservative circles in South Korea, particularly in the Daegu and Gyeongsang areas, ahead of general elections scheduled for April next year. Notable attendees at the annual memorial ceremony included Rep. Kim Gi-hyeon, the leader of the ruling People Power Party (PPP), and Ihn Yohan, the chief of the PPP's new innovation committee.