Seoul searching

Whoever takes over from Park Geun-hye faces a daunting challenge, writes James Hannah

The World Today
3 minute READ

The Blue House is the official residence of the President of the Republic of Korea in Seoul. It sits in the north of the city, at the foot of the Bugaksan Mountain along the top of which the old city walls run.

In January 1968, a group of 31 North Korean commandos infiltrated Seoul, launching an assault on the compound in an unsuccessful assassination attempt on then President Park Chung-hee. The violence that ensued killed 26 South Koreans.

Today, a tree riddled with bullets from the firefight is a photo opportunity on the Bugaksan city wall hike, a walk which affords panoramic views of a glittering city which symbolizes South Korea’s story of rapid economic growth and modernization: ‘the miracle on the Han River’.

Park Chung-hee played a significant role in that story during the two decades in which he held power, before his eventual assassination by his security chief during a dinner in 1979.

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