South Korea’s new president, Park Geun-hye, was sworn-in on Monday, becoming the first woman to lead the country. The 61 year old is the daughter of former President Park Chung-hee, who was assassinated in 1979 and left behind a dual legacy which varies depending on who you talk to. Many feel he was a great leader who’s responsible for South Korea’s overall prosperity while others are convinced he ruled with an iron fist and crushed dissent. Both versions most likely have some merit as Park herself has apologized for human rights violations committed during his rule.
Park practices a policy of ‘trustpolitik‘ which is based on deterrence imbued with a cautious approach to North Korea. She said she intended to “lay the groundwork for an era of harmonious unification where all Koreans can lead more prosperous and freer lives and where their dreams can come true.”
Yonhap News Agency reported that Park said she would work to reinvigorate South Korea‘s economy and warned North Korea against pursuing its nuclear ambitions.
As tens of thousands of people filled the National Assembly plaza in Seoul to hear her historical inaugural address, Park proved her familiarity with public speaking:
“As president of the Republic of Korea, I will live up to the will of the people by achieving economic rejuvenation, the happiness of the people, and the flourishing of our culture. I will do my utmost to build a Republic of Korea that is prosperous and where happiness is felt by all Koreans. 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. I urge North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions without delay and embark on the path to peace and shared development. I will move forward step-by-step on the basis of credible deterrence to build trust between the South and the North.”
Park campaigned as a fiscal conservative and won 52% of the vote in December, advocating tax cuts as incentives for business in order to boost investment and jobs and promising to restructure welfare programs.
Her inauguration was marked with a celebratory striking of the Boshingak bell at the center of Seoul at midnight.