In a rare departure from conservative and filial piety, Saenuri Party presidential nominee Park Geun-hye on Monday apologized for her father Park Chung-hee's authoritarian rule, which resulted in the deaths of people who fought for democracy.
The late president is both credited with bringing about tremendous economic growth during his 18-year rule and criticized for ruling with an iron fist and suppressing democracy.
Earlier this month, Park still said the final judgment in an incident where eight men were executed for protesting against her father's military rule "should be left to history and the people."
The eight were posthumously acquitted in a 2007 retrial. And in July, Park defended the 1961 military coup in which her father seized power, saying it had been "inevitable."
The opposition slammed her remarks, saying both incidents were a tragedy for the Korean people. Apparently in order to bring closure to the controversy and avoid hurting her election prospects, Park offered her official apology at a press conference on Monday.
It comes hard on the heels of software mogul Ahn Cheol-soo's announcing his presidential bid and polls that show him comfortably ahead of Park in a hypothetical two-way race.
It remains to be seen if Park's apology will sway voters who were upset and perhaps angered by her remarks.