Saturday, December 22, 2012

Park Geunhye speaking English back in the 1970s

Take heart, non-native English speakers who sometimes get nervous with the language and make halting speeches when you have to say something in public. Because some day you may be president. (HT to kangaji)

I thought this was a quite charming little video, though the time frame is a dark one. This was early 1974 or prior, when she was no older than twenty-one, and not long afterward Park's mother would be assassinated, followed five years later by her father. It was a time of huge economic leaps forward in South Korea, but also one of tremendous political turmoil and social upheaval.

One wonders how much the English has stuck with her in the four decades since. I also wonder the same about her French skills (she studied in France for a bit, but came home after her mother was killed) and her Japanese ability (her father had been an officer in the Imperial Japanese army and spoke Japanese fairly well, and reportedly continued to do so among his fellow former Japanese officers, on occasion, when he was at the Blue House).

It's interesting that the incoming and out-going two presidents have had a fairly strong Japanese connection, with current President Lee Myungbak having been born in the Osaka area, where he lived until about the age of five. Park's father was downright pro-Japanese compared to his predecessor, Syngman Rhee (who loathed the Imperial Japanese authorities and their successors) and modeled South Korea's post-war development strategy largely on the Japanese economic model, fully utilizing Korean-Japanese connections that were allowed to flourish again after the 1965 Treaty on Basic Relations.

If someone can get me a video of President-elect Park speaking French or Japanese, I'd be happy to post it.


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