Park becomes president of ROK
Updated: 2013-02-26 03:44
Park Geun-hye became the Republic of Korea's first female president on Monday, pledging zero tolerance toward provocation from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and demanding that Pyongyang "abandon its nuclear ambitions" immediately.
As leader of Asia's fourth-largest economy, Park, the 61-year-old daughter of former president Park Chung-hee, faces the challenges of slowing growth and soaring welfare costs in one of the world's most rapidly aging societies.
Analysts said the most pressing challenges that Park will face are the DRPK nuclear issue and the ROK's slow economic growth.
Taking the oath of office less than two weeks after the DPRK carried out its third nuclear test, Park called on Pyongyang to "abandon its nuclear ambitions without delay" and rejoin the international community.
She said that the DPRK's recent nuclear test was "a challenge to the survival and future of the Korean people".
"I will not tolerate any action that threatens the lives of our people and the security of our nation."
However, the new president also said she will pursue the trust-building policy with Pyongyang that she promised in her campaign.
"I will move forward step by step on the basis of credible deterrence," she added.
Huang Youfu, a researcher in Korean studies at Minzu University of China in Beijing, said Park needs to hold more discussions with the United States and China on the DRPK issue, especially as she favors talks with Pyongyang while the international community is cracking down on the DPRK.
Monday's two-and-a-half-hour inauguration ceremony, held on a chilly and cloudy morning, included a musical warm-up concert that saw Korean rapper Psy perform his global hit Gangnam Style.
The bulk of Park's inauguration speech focused on the economy, and included commitments to job creation, expanded welfare and "economic democratization" at a time of growing concern with income and wealth disparity.
The ROK's extraordinary post-Korean War economic revival — known as the "Miracle on the Han" — has faltered in recent years, with key export markets hit by the global downturn.
Promising "another miracle", Park said her administration will build a new "creative economy" that will move beyond the country's traditional manufacturing base.
"At the very heart of a creative economy lie science and technology and the IT industry, areas that I have earmarked as key priorities," she said.
The ROK's low birthrate means the population is increasingly skewed toward the over-60s, who fear an old age of isolation and financial anxiety.
"No citizen should be left to fear that he or she might not be able to meet the basic requirements of life," Park said in her speech, promising a "new paradigm of tailored welfare" for the aged and unemployed.
Park, unlike her predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, is not an expert in economics. "She will need to have more economic experts to help her," said Huang, who attended Park's inauguration ceremony on Monday.
Park is expected to unite the two parties and the people, Huang said.
The inauguration audience spoke highly of Park's speech, praising it for being relevant and practical, Huang added.
Park took office more than 50 years after her father seized power in a military coup.
Unlike her predecessors, she already knows the presidential Blue House well, she lived there as a child and served there as acting first lady after her mother was killed in 1974 during an assassination attempt on her father. Park Chung-hee was assassinated five years later.
Zhou Wa and Cheng Guangjin contributed to this story.