Ma Ying-jeou congratulates SKorea’s 1st female president

Ma Ying-jeou congratulated Park Geun-hye on winning the South Korean presidential election and becoming the country’s first female head of state, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dec. 19.

“The ROC government and people of Taiwan wish to express their most sincere congratulations to President-elect Park,” Ma said. “We look forward to working with South Korea in taking bilateral cooperation and exchanges to new heights, as well as enhancing security and prosperity in Northeast Asia.”

According to a MOFA official, Taiwan and South Korea enjoy close academic, cultural, trade and tourism exchanges.

South Korea is Taiwan’s fifth largest trading partner, with two-way trade hitting US$30.2 billion last year, up 8.8 percent from 2010, the official said, adding that visits between the two countries reached 660,000 in 2011.

“These frequent exchanges are expected to expand on the back of a working holiday program, direct flights between Taipei Songshan and Seoul Gimpo airports, and the extension of reciprocal visa-free privileges from 30 to 90 days.”

Park, 60, leader of the ruling center-right New Frontier Party, is the daughter of late authoritarian President Park Chung-hee. She defeated 59-year-old Moon Jae-in of the opposition Democratic United Party, securing 51.6 percent of the vote compared with Moon’s 48 percent.

President-elect Park will take office in February 2013, replacing President Lee Myung-bak who steps down after five years in the Blue House.

Rachel Chan