By Claire Zillman
November 22, 2016

There’s growing concern that the fallout of the scandal engulfing South Korean President Park Geun-hye is reaching beyond the Blue House and tainting the atmosphere for future female leaders in the deeply partiarchal nation.

Gender is coloring protests of Park, whom prosecutors have accused of being a criminal accomplice in the influence-peddling scandal involving her close confidant Choi Soon-sil. Here’s a taste of the commentary going around Twitter: “If Hillary is elected, the United States will have its first female president. If Trump is elected, it will have its first crazy president. South Korea got both in 2012.” Park was elected that year.

Park’s lawyer is making the situation worse by citing gender as a reason for leniency. He said Park was “a woman before being president” and that her “privacy as a woman” must be protected from prosecutors, according to The New York Times.

The irony is that despite being the nation’s first female president, Park is not considered a feminist icon. She rose to power by casting herself as a modern version of her late father, military dictator Park Chung-hee, rather than a champion of women’s rights.

Nevertheless, feminist groups say the scandal is being touted as evidence that women are not qualified for politics. And regardless of their validity, those claims could make it harder for South Korea to cross the all-important threshold I wrote about yesterday—the election of a second female leader.



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