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Female Candidates Emerge in Korea's Male-Dominated Society Updated: 2012-12-19 00:00:00 KST

In a society that has long been dominated by men, this year's presidential election has seen more women come to the forefront.

[Interview : Kim Won-hong, Lead Researcher
Korean Women's Development Institute] "This could mean that the the public is thinking that women can be better at leading the nation, more than men."

But Korea still has a long way to go before reaching gender equality.

[Interview : Kim Won-hong, Lead Researcher
Korean Women's Development Institute] "In the last few decades, especially compared to the 80s.. Korean society has improved in gender equality issues// But there is still a lot of room for improvement."

Experts say that the number of women on this year's ballot and the fact that the Saenuri Party's Park Geun-hye is a leading candidate do not necessarily mean that Korean women have emerged, broken through the glass ceiling.

[Reporter : Connie Lee
반 투명 씨지] The OECD recently reported that Korea has the largest income gap between men and women among the 28 advanced nations that were surveyed.
Adding to that the World Economic Forum ranked Korea in the bottom third for gender equality, placing Korea at 108th out of 135 developed economies.

In the political world, about 48 of 299 lawmakers in Korea's National Assembly are female.
There's been an increase over the years, but it's still a number that is very low compared to other advanced countries.

Park-- the daughter of late president Park Chung-hee--claims that she wants to turn things around for women, and has been campaigning as a "prepared female president," as said by her slogan.
However, some doubt that Park, as the nation's first female leader, would promote a female revolution in Korea.

[Reporter : Lee In-sook, Professor
Konkuk University ] "Park has been working in politics for the past 15 years. But, throughout those years, she hasn't really pushed for women's issues or rights before. Many women voters say they can't relate to her as a female. A lot of Koreans see her just as the daughter of Korea's former president, Park Chung-hee."

Park's supporters say, though, that a win on Election Day would make way for greater rights and opportunities for women in Korea.
Connie Lee, Arirang News.
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