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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid