by Yoon Joung Lee
A British female soldier, Hannah Snell, was born in Worcester, England in 1723. In her childhood, she was an ordinary kid who loved playing with her siblings. She also enjoyed playing the games of soldiers even as a child.
After her parents died in 1940, she moved to London where she later married a sailor, James Summs, in 1744. When she became pregnant two years after their marriage, her husband left her. Snell gave birth to her daughter, Susannah, by herself, but the baby sadly died a year later.
Following the death of her daughter, she decided to join the military to search for her missing husband. Snell borrowed male attire belonging to her brother-in-law, James Gray, and disguised herself as a man. At that time, the Scottish Jacobites, the followers of the British Army Officer Charles Stuart, were considering uprising against English for power. They invaded England in 1745. They captured Carlisle and reached out to Derby. However, the Jacobites were eventually crushed at the battle of Culloden in 1746. Snell joined General Guise’s regiment in the army of Duke of Northumberland, which was hunting down Bonnie Prince Charlie, and eventually deserted after her sergeant ordered her to be flogged for some unknown reason.
While she was still hoping to find her husband, she fled to Portsmouth and joined the Marines with her previous military experience. In 1747, she boarded a ship called Swallow, which sailed for Lisbon and then to East Indies to capture the French colony of Pondicherry. During the battle in Devicotta in 1749, she was injured eleven times of varying degrees, once in the groin. However, her wounds could be treated without revealing her identity by the help of a sympathetic Indian nurse. When the ship returned to Lisbon, she was finally able to hear of some news of her husband who had been executed for murder in Genoa. Her efforts to search for her husband were in vain.
In 1750, Snell finished with her tour of duty and returned to Britain with her unit. During her travel from Portsmouth to London, she revealed her sex to her fellow soldiers and returned wearing female attire. Her story rapidly spread throughout the country and she appeared on stage in London with military uniform. A London publisher Robert Walker published her story with the title of ‘The Female Soldier’ in two different editions. Several painters painted her portrait in her military uniform. She also received an honorable discharge and was granted a military pension.
In the mid-1750s, she retired and briefly opened a pub named ‘The Female Warrior’ while living in Newbury in Berkshire. In 1759 she secondly married carpenter Samuel Eyles and they had two children. In 1772, after she was again widowed after his death, she remarried Richard Habgood of Welford in Berkshire and they later moved to the Midlands.
In 1791, her mental condition suddenly worsened as the symptoms of insanity began to develop in her. Snell stayed at Bethlem Hospital and died insane in 1782 at her age of sixty-nine. She was buried at Chelsea Hospital with other soldiers as she always wanted.
by Yoon Joung Lee
A survey conducted by Sisa Korean news magazine said Geun Hye Park is the second most influential political figure in the country behind President Myung-bak Lee. Geun Hye Park is a South Korean Politician and the daughter of South Korea’s controversial former President Chung Hee Park whose labels include dictator and economic reformer.
Under General Park’s iron-fist rule from 1963 to 1979, the economy in South Korea rapidly developed and South Korea even started to open a dialogue with North Korea. However, Park lost her mother in an assassination attempt against her father in 1974 and also lost her father by the head of the Korean CIA five years later. For five years until her father was assassinated, she was seen as the country’s unofficial first lady.
Geun Hye Park was born in 1952 in Daegu, South Korea as the oldest child out of three. Her younger brother, Ji-man Park, is the current CEO of EG Corporation in South Korea and her younger sister, Seo-yeong Park is the current executive director at Yookyoung Foundation. Park finished her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Sogang University in 1974, and received honorary doctoral degrees from Chinese Culture University in Taiwan in 1987, KAIST and Bukyung Univerisity in 2008 and Sogang University in 2010. She was also the chairwoman of the board of Yeungnam University from 1982 to 1991. She never married.
Although she avoided to going back to political scene after the death of her parents, she eventually re-entered in 1997 during the final stage of the presidential elections. In 1998, she was elected as congresswoman to the National Assembly after winning a by-election for the conservative Grand National Party in Daegu. During the 15th National Assembly, Park served on the Commerce, Industry and Energy Committee, and also served on the Unification, Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee and the Special Commission on Women’s Affairs during the 16th National Assembly. Two years later in 2000, she caught the public's attention as she was voted vice president for the opposition Grand National Party (GNP).
However, what really caught the media and public's attention was her criticizing GNP chair Hoe Chang Lee. She soon withdrew from GNP in 2002 and tried to attract GNP members to join her newly established party. However, she failed to persuade them and eventually returned back to the party in December shortly before presidential elections. In 2004, she was re-elected as chairwoman for a second term, and she was able to strengthen her position as the party's leading presidential candidate. For the first time in 30 years of South Korean politics, a woman was elected as the party's leader.
In 2006, while Park was helping her party to make significant growth and gains in local government, she was attacked by a 50-year old man who slashed her cheek with a knife during a street campaign rally for the elections for governors' and mayors' posts. She got a 10-centimeter wound on her face and taken to the hospital for hours of surgery with 60 stitches. However, the way she handled the situation and her fast return to campaign earned her the sympathy of many voters. With her high popularity, GNP won in these local elections. This favorable election gave Park a significant chance to become the first female presidential candidate. In 2006, Park stepped down as GNP-leader to prepare for presidential candidacy for 2007's election.
In 2007 presidential election, Park lost to Myung Bak Lee, the current president of South Korea, by a narrow margin. She won the 'party members bid,' but lost the 'national bid' covering more percentage of the presidential bid. After the election, President Lee formed his government with the people who he has a relationship with. To show the strong stance against it, many of Park's supporters left GNP and formed other parties like Pro-Park Alliance and Pro-Park Independents. GNP did not allow them to return to the party.
However, after Park's long-time claim that the supporters should be allowed back, most of Park's supporters are now back in GNP and there are about 60 supporters currently. Due to her aggressive stance against the Lee administration and the reduction of her activity in the election pivotal for GNP, her popularity has dropped recently and her approval rating after 2010 Korean municipal elections has also dropped to 25.1%.
In male-dominated Korean politics, womens' political influence is still limited to certain positions of representative character. However, Korean politics nowadays become more influenced by women politicians and Park is one of the women who is leading this movement.
by Yoon Joung Lee
Ho Ching is the CEO of the Singapore Government-owned Temasek Holdings (Pte) Ltd. and the wife of the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong. She is the oldest one of four children from retired businessman Hoe Eung Hongand Chan Chiew Ping. In 1985, Ho Ching married Lee Hesien Loong who is a son of Singapore’s legendary elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew.
She graduated from the National University of Singapore with a major in Engineering and finished her master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in the United States. She was also awarded the Distinguished Engineering Alumnus in the U.S. She started her career at the Ministry of Defense in Singapore as an Engineer in 1976 and she became the Deputy Director of Defense Material organization and Deputy Director of Defense Science organization until she joined Singapore Technologies in 1987. There, she served as the Director of Engineering, a position that consists of being a defense contractor owned by Temasek.
In 2001, she retired as President and Chief Executive Officer of Singapore Technologies and became the Deputy Chairman as the firm’s controlling shareholder. Under her leadership, Temasek Holdings, the investment arm of the government of Singapore, grew from a passive custodian into an active and outstanding investor with financial power and risk tolerance. Temasek Holdings has also expanded outside Singapore into the rest of Asia-Pacific including Korea, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan. Temasek Holdings penetrates every part of Singaporean economy and has become one of the most influential and most aggressive investors in India and China. Temasek bought stakes in China construction Bank Corp. and Bank of China. The Singaporean investment company also holds about 189 million shares in Bank of America after converting its Merrill Lynch stock.
Since 2002 when she became CEO, Ho has established the firm with more precise performance guidelines to raise its transparency and accountability. As a result, shareholder equity, from 2002 to 2007, has doubled to 90 billion. In addition to Singapore Technologies, she has served on Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd. as a Board of Director since 1987 and served as the Chairman of the Board for the firm since 1995. She has also served on the Economic Development Board, the National Science and Technology Board, the Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research, and the Productivity and Standards Boards.
In 2009, she stepped down as CEO after almost seven years at Temasek, Singapore’s $130 billion state-owned investment company. Charles W. Goodyear, a former CEO of BHP Billiton Ltd. replaced her place as Chief Executive Officer as the first foreigner to run the sovereign wealth fund. Ho revealed in Temasek’s media releases, that there is “no regret” about her time at CEO, and resignation is another start for future performance in her life.
In 2007; Ho was listed in Fortune magazine as third in the list of most powerful women in business. In the same year, she was picked as the one of the “100 most influential men and women” by TIME magazine and was also ranked third by Forbes magazine in its annual list of the world’s most powerful women.