President Park sworn in

Park Sae-jin Reporter() | Posted : April 26, 2013, 09:07 | Updated : April 26, 2013, 09:07
Park Geun-hye promised a tough stance on national security and an era of economic revival as she was sworn in as South Korea‘s president. Park, who defeated liberal rival Moon Jae-in in December’s general election, took the oath of office in front of tens of thousands of people.

North Korea‘s recent nuclear test posed a “challenge to the survival” of the Korean people, she said. Trust-building was needed to tackle the “extremely serious” security situation.

Park, the first woman to lead South Korea, succeeds President Lee Myung-bak, of the same Saenuri Party, who stepped down as the law required after a five-year term. The 61-year-old is the daughter of former military strongman Park Chung-hee, who ruled South Korea for almost two decades.

She takes office amid high tensions on the Korean peninsula in the wake of a North Korean nuclear test, on 12 February. In her inauguration speech, Ms Park said she would “not tolerate any action that threatens the lives of our people and the security of our nation”. “North Korea’s recent nuclear test is a challenge to the survival and future of the Korean people, and there should be no mistake that the biggest victim will be none other than North Korea itself.”

Calling on North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions, she said that in a challenging security environment South Korea could not “afford to remain where we are”.

On the economy, Ms Park promised more focus on a “creative economy” founded in “economic democratization” that would expand beyond existing markets and sectors.

South Korea‘s economic growth has slowed, the population is rapidly ageing, and demands for a fairer division of wealth are now being voiced on both sides of the political divide. Policies would be brought in to help small and medium-sized enterprises flourish, Ms Park said.

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