Scandal in South Korea Exposes More Than Just Park’s Corruption

Protesters at a rally calling for South Korean President Park Geun-hye to step down, Seoul, Nov. 16, 2016 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).
Protesters at a rally calling for South Korean President Park Geun-hye to step down, Seoul, Nov. 16, 2016 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

“I will repay the hopes and prayers you’ve placed in each and every lucky bag,” Park Geun-hye promised a quiet crowd in Seoul on a February morning in 2013. South Korea’s newly elected first female president was referring to the bokjumeoni—colorful silk pouches thought to bring good luck, South Korea’s version of a four-leaf clover—that decorated the tree behind her in Gwanghwamun Square. Some of the pouches were embroidered with the Chinese characters for “fortune” or “wealth,” while others had images of animals on them. When the inaugural ceremony began, the tree was wrapped in a giant bokjumeoni that opened […]

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