News / Asia

South Korea Swears in First Woman President

South Korea's new President Park Geun-hye takes an oath during her inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Feb. 25, 2013.South Korea's new President Park Geun-hye takes an oath during her inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Feb. 25, 2013.
x
South Korea's new President Park Geun-hye takes an oath during her inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Feb. 25, 2013.
South Korea's new President Park Geun-hye takes an oath during her inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Feb. 25, 2013.
South Korea has inaugurated its first female president. She is Park Geun-hye, the daughter of a former president with a controversial legacy.

Before a crowd of 70,000 people, Madame Park Geun-hye, dressed in an olive green coat and wearing a violet-colored scarf, took the oath of office as her country's 11th president since its inception in 1948.

She then saluted as a military band marched and cannons fired to celebrate her inauguration.

Challenges ahead

In her inaugural address, the president called rival Pyongyang's latest nuclear test “a challenge to the survival and future of the Korean people” and said North Korea will be “the biggest victim.”

Calling on the North to abandon wasting resources on nuclear and missile development, the new president in Seoul pledged to “move forward, step-by-step, on the basis of credible deterrence to build trust between the South and the North.”

President Park also issued a warning to Pyongyang that she will “not tolerate any action that threatens the lives” of the people and security of the nation.

In the hours before the ceremony, South Korea's military went on a higher state of alert.

Domestic media say air force fighter jets patrolled the skies;  the navy moved warships into the Yellow Sea;  and, the army boosted its guard around the capital - this amid anxiety that North Korea might attempt to carry out a provocation and take the spotlight off the ceremony in Seoul.

Bittersweet

For Madame Park, her inauguration day marks a bittersweet return to the Blue House. She left the official presidential residence as a 22-year-old grieving daughter, dressed in black, on November 21, 1979.

The shadow of her father's legacy looms large as her administration begins.

As the first child of a South Korean president to be elected to the same post, the never-married new leader seeks to dissuade criticism that she is more than just the daughter of a dictator. A five-term lawmaker in her own right, she barely lost a primary contest five years ago to the president she has succeeded, Lee Myung-bak, constitutionally limited to a single term.

In her inaugural address,  President Park looked beyond the peninsula, vowing to strengthen trust with other countries, especially the United States, China, Japan and Russia.

China ties

During the election campaign, she specifically pledged to improve ties with China.

Political analyst Hwang Tae-soon at the Wisdom Center (a think tank in Seoul) sees security concerns keeping South Korea in a tight relationship with its military ally, the United States.

Hwang notes that while president-elect, Madame Park did send her first special envoy to China, not the United States. But he says her selections for foreign and defense ministers, in the wake of the crisis emanating from North Korea's third nuclear test February 12t, indicate she has judged closer communication with Washington more important than balancing ties with Beijing. Thus, Hwang predicts her foreign policy, initially, will not differ that much from the previous administration.

The National Assembly has yet to hold hearings on any of the new president's Cabinet nominees. Thus President Park, for the time being, is governing with the ministers of her predecessor.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid