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South Korean conservative politician could become first female president

Park Geun-hye won her New Frontier Party's presidential primary easily. Polls show Park is ahead of any of the declared liberal opponents by double digits for December's election.

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Park Geun-hye celebrates at a national convention of the ruling Saenuri Party in Goyang, north of Seoul on Monday. Park was nominated candidate for the December 19 presidential election. Park is the daughter of former military dictator Park Chung-hee who took power in a military coup in 1961 and ruled until his assassination in 1979.

Lee Jae-Won/Reuters

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South Korea's ruling conservatives picked Park Geun-hye, the daughter of the country's slain strongman, on Monday as their candidate for December's presidential polls, putting her on track to become the country's first woman leader.

Park, the daughter of Park Chung-hee who ruled the country from 1961 to 1979, won her New Frontier Party's presidential primary, easily beating four male candidates by winning 84 percent of the vote in the race to succeed fellow conservative Lee Myung-bak whose mandatory single term ends in February.

Third attempt

Smiling and clad in a blue shirt and black trousers, Park's win at her third attempt to become her party's candidate was greeted by the theme music from "Chariots of Fire" as she pledged greater economic equality.

"We will make sure that small and medium companies and big corporations can coexist ... We'll make sure the economically weak are given a fair chance," the 60-year old told cheering party members in her acceptance speech.

The gap between rich and poor in South Korea has widened in recent years, and opinion polls show younger voters have become disillusioned by the lack of permanent job opportunities.

Polls show Park is ahead of any of the declared liberal opponents by double digits and looks likely to return to the presidential Blue House 33 years after she left it in mourning for her assassinated father.

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