Sunday, February 24, 2013

Park 2 Day 1 in pictures

After 2 ROHs, 2 KIMs, and 1 LEE, I woke up with my first President PARK this morning*. The second one for many Koreans, who still now define PARK Geun-hye as "the daughter of".

The daughter of whom? Of PARK Chung-hee, of course. But the daughter of what, exactly? Of a "dictator", confirmed the BBC today, along with most international media. Of a "strongman", according to the guidelines suggested by conservative PR outlets in Korea... guidelines followed by the TIME editors, who controversially changed their December 17 cover, initially planned with the "D" word:

One thing is sure: the officials in charge of her inauguration in Yeouido could have picked a better TV background for the swear-in moment than this unsmiling Westerner with sunglasses, like a Man In Black keeping an eye on some valuable CIA asset. Even if Secretary of State John Kerry skipped the event, NK propagandists will probably photoshop a puppeteer hand out of this dark background:

Worse: if you enlarge the picture, you get Yingluck Shinawatra, a person mostly known as Taksin Shinawatra's sister, even now that she is Thailand's Prime Minister, a job she owes only to this familial tie:

So you'll probably see many official pictures framed, like this AP shot, in a tight close-up...

... unless PR wizzards opt for this picture, taken later in the day, during PARK's surrealistic stop at Gwanghwamun Square, on her way to Cheong Wa Dae:

photo Yonhap News
Here, the new president opened a giant purse, revealing a teletubbiesque tree of hope from which she randomly picked of low hanging fruits: wishes for a better welfare written by Korean citizens. She read a couple of them aloud, like a mom would do with poems from her kids, before rushing back to her stretch limo, as if last year's campaign never ended, with its "daughter/mother of the nation" positioning**, and its incessant succession of symbolic photo ops (eg below the tightest close up I shot from the future president - "Park Geun-hye bballi bballi campaigning" - October 2012 on SeoulVillage's YouTube channel):

PARK made one last stop (in front of Cheongwadae Sarangchae, welcomed by traditional music and friendly neighbors from Cheongun-dong and Hyoja-dong), before going back to where it all began: a Blue House where cameras followed her all the way up the grand staircase.
On this Oscar night and in spite of the hanbok, Park Geun-hye did much better than Jennifer Lawrence. Apparently, no Clark Gable was waiting for her. Anyway, time to lower the curtain and to get to work.

A reframed picture, a colorful tree, a big red staircase... of course these reductive images are not all there is to remember from such a historic day. There were also political messages, as expected focused on the 3 elephants in nowaday's Korean corridor: North Korea (the "biggest victim" from its own nuclear test), economy, and welfare.

But still** as this stage, we can't tell for sure who the person known as "the daughter of" truly is, and what she will eventually be remembered as.

Seoul Village 2013
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* technically, one should add GOH Kun, who was acting president during ROH Moo-hyun's impeachment in 2004.
** see "The Anipang Election: Park wins big, but who won?"

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