South Korea's 1st Woman President Takes Helm

Park Geun-hye faces nuclear North, divided South

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 25, 2013 7:27 AM CST

(Newser) – South Korea's first female president, Park Geun-hye, was inaugurated today—three decades after the assassination of her father, Park Chung-hee, who led a dictatorship for 18 years. Park enters office at a moment of heightened tensions with the North, weeks after its latest nuclear test, the New York Times notes. In her inaugural address, she urged the North to drop its nuclear weapons program "without delay," Reuters reports. It marks "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."

According to Reuters, the new president has two options in addressing the North: either "paying off" Pyongyang to halt its program—an option that failed in 2006—or boosting sanctions against the North, a process that has resulted in attacks on Southern territory. Meanwhile, she'll have to win over younger South Koreans fuming over her father's heavy-handed rule. To make things even more complicated, her inauguration comes days after a pastor was arrested after making claims that Park had slept with Kim Jong Il in 2002, the Times notes. The Hollywood Reporter has a lighter note: The inauguration featured Mr. Gangnam Style himself, PSY.

South Korean rapper PSY performs before President Park Geun-hye's presidential inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 25, 2013.
South Korean rapper PSY performs before President Park Geun-hye's presidential inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 25, 2013.   (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
South Korea's new President Park Geun-hye salutes during her inauguration ceremony as the 18th South Korean president.
South Korea's new President Park Geun-hye salutes during her inauguration ceremony as the 18th South Korean president.   (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
South Korea's new President Park Geun-hye waves as she arrives for her inauguration at parliament in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 25, 2013.
South Korea's new President Park Geun-hye waves as she arrives for her inauguration at parliament in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 25, 2013.   (AP Photo/Kim Hong-Ji, Pool)
South Korea's new President Park Geun-hye smiles during her inauguration at parliament in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 25, 2013. Elected in December, Park is believed to be the first Korean woman to rule in a millennium.
South Korea's new President Park Geun-hye smiles during her inauguration at parliament in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 25, 2013. Elected in December, Park is believed to be the first Korean woman...   (AP Photo/Kim Hong-Ji, Pool)
Members of a Samulnori dance troupe, or traditional South Korean percussion quartet, perform during the inauguration.
Members of a "Samulnori" dance troupe, or traditional South Korean percussion quartet, perform during the inauguration.   (AP Photo/Kim Hong-Ji, Pool)
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