President Park Geun-hye models herself on former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as the "iron lady" of South Korea, the Wall Street Journal speculated Wednesday.
"Ms. Park, like Mrs. Thatcher, is known for not being intimidated by totalitarian regimes or men in power," the paper said. "When her father, President Park Chung-hee, was assassinated in 1979, Ms. Park was quoted as saying 'Is the border secure?' -- sparking admiration by worrying primarily about the possible threat of a North Korean invasion."
"In her first televised address from [Cheong Wa Dae] she sharply chastised opposition politicians -- almost all men --for blocking her government reorganization plans," the paper added.
The paper believes these are conscious similarities. Park "made her fondness for Mrs. Thatcher clear in a 2007 speech in which she said that the 'leadership that can revive South Korea from crisis is Thatcherism'."
In last year's presidential election, Park's campaign also emphasized similarities with Thatcher to establish the image of a strong and successful female leader in a patriarchal society which lacks female role models. "Coverage of Ms. Park during the campaign even noted how she dressed like Mrs. Thatcher, including wearing large brooches high on the left of her jackets," the WSJ said.
"Margaret Thatcher's heyday may be long gone, but the former U.K. prime minister and her ideas are enjoying something of a renaissance in Asia, where the new leaders of Japan and South Korea are openly embracing the controversial Cold War-era leader as a hero and role model."
Japan's new rightwing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also cited Thatcher as a role model.