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South Korea

Seoul Corruption And Female Power

Dilma Rousseff and Park Geun-hye
Dilma Rousseff and Park Geun-hye

-Analysis-

It's just a coincidence, but the symbolism is too hard to ignore. Two days ago, as every year on March 8, the world was celebrating women for, among other things, their "economic" and "political achievements." Earlier today, South Korea's Constitutional Court ruled that President Park Geun-hye must be removed from office over a corruption scandal that involves some of the country's top conglomerates, including national flagship corporation Samsung.

The case is reminiscent of that of another woman who, like Park, had been the first woman elected to lead her country, but who also was deposed amid accusations of cronyism: Brazil's Dilma Rousseff. Even if Dilma was impeached for having manipulated the budget to boost her chances of reelection, she too was suspected of corruption in the still ongoing operation Lava Jato ("Car Wash").

Meanwhile, in neighboring Argentina, it is a former president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who was recently indicted for allegedly taking bribes to award public works to companies owned by people close to her.

Women who seek public office should expect that their integrity will be examined with an unforgiving eye.

Rewind to late 2013 Germany and you'll find that even Angela Merkel, the oft-dubbed "most powerful woman in the world" and "new leader of the free world," isn't beyond reproach. Back then, she and her party were accused of having taken a generous donation from car manufacturer BMW, days before intervening to scrap an EU deal to cap carbon emissions. And of course, in last year's campaign for the White House, Hillary Clinton's defeat may ultimately be blamed on doubts about her honesty and probity.

It is first worth noting that in virtually all of these cases, the male rivals of the women in question have some serious ethical challenges of their own, which may even be viewed differently by a public more willing to forgive "boys being boys."

But the upheaval in Seoul is still a worthwhile reminder, two days after some justified calls for more female power, that women who seek public office should expect that their integrity will be examined with an unforgiving eye. And same goes for men.

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Society

Parenthood And The Pressure Of Always Having To Be Doing Better

As a father myself, I'm now better able to understand the pressures my own dad faced. It's helped me face my own internal demands to constantly be more productive and do better.

Photo of a father with a son on his shoulders

Father and son in the streets of Madrid, Spain

Ignacio Pereyra*

-Essay-

When I was a child — I must have been around eight or so — whenever we headed with my mom and grandma to my aunt's country house in Don Torcuato, outside of Buenos Aires, there was the joy of summer plans. Spending the day outdoors, playing soccer in the field, being in the swimming pool and eating delicious food.

But when I focus on the moment, something like a painful thorn appears in the background: from the back window of the car I see my dad standing on the sidewalk waving us goodbye. Sometimes he would stay at home. “I have to work” was the line he used.

Maybe one of my older siblings would also stay behind with him, but I'm sure there were no children left around because we were all enthusiastic about going to my aunt’s. For a long time in his life, for my old man, those summer days must have been the closest he came to being alone, in silence (which he liked so much) and in calm, considering that he was the father of seven. But I can only see this and say it out loud today.

Over the years, the scene repeated itself: the destination changed — it could be a birthday or a family reunion. The thorn was no longer invisible but began to be uncomfortable as, being older, my interpretation of the events changed. When words were absent, I started to guess what might be happening — and we know how random guessing can be.

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