South Korea’s president-elect, Park Geun-hye, called for national reconciliationon Thursday and met with foreign envoys in Seoul, a day after she was elected the country’s first female leader in a close contest that reflected generational and regional divides and growing unease over North Korea’s military threat. Ms. Park, 60, the daughter of South Korea’s longest-ruling dictator, won 51.6 percent of the votes cast on Wednesday to choose a successor to President Lee Myung-bak, who was barred by law from seeking a second term. “I will reflect various opinions of the people, whether they have supported or opposed me,” Ms. Park said in a speech Thursday. She pledged “impartiality,” “national harmony” and “reconciliation,” saying she would bring people into her government “regardless of their regional background, gender and generation.”
She also promised “the sharing of fruits of economic growth,” mindful of doubts that her conservative party, the governing Saenuri Party, would address the widening income gap that was one of the biggest issues in the campaign.
Ms. Park on Wednesday became the first presidential candidate to win a majority of the vote since South Korea adopted a democratic constitution in 1987. But the campaign hardly put the country’s divisions to rest. It rekindled a dispute over the legacy of Ms. Park’s father, Park Chung-hee, who remains a polarizing figure 33 years after his iron-fisted rule ended with his assassination in 1979. It also highlighted a generational divide over issues such as North Korea and the powerful, family-controlled business conglomerates known as chaebol. Exit polls indicated that Ms. Park won twice as many votes among people 50 and older than did her main rival, Moon Jae-in, but only half as many among voters in their 20s and 30s.