SEOUL – New South Korean President Park Geun-hye said North Korea should “abandon its nuclear ambitions” in her inauguration speech today, and that Pyongyang needs to “abide by international norms” under growing pressure surrounding its third nuclear test earlier this month.
“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” said Park, addressing large crowds in Seoul.
South Korean news agency Yonhap said Park told military chiefs early this morning to “ensure military readiness” against any outside provocations, in one of her first decisions as new Commander-in-Chief. North Korea said on Friday that it would take “decisive” and “annihilating” countermeasures to what it sees as highly provocative joint US-South Korean military drills in Korean costal waters. Such aggressive rhetoric from Pyongyang is not unusual, and part of an on-going trend in current inter-Korean relations.
Park, who is also daughter of former dictator Park Chung-hee, used the speech to promise fairer economic policies to reduce the power of the chaebol industries that stimulated the post-war Korean economy under her father’s regime. “Economic Democratization” was a flagship policy of her election campaign, designed to stop the rise of monopolies and support small and mid-level business growth.
North Korea’s main newspaper the Rodong Sinmun used an editorial this morning to criticize the rule of outgoing president Lee Myung-bak, and his reunification policy that they argue has pushed inter-Korean relations to the “brink of war”. The Lee Myung-bak administration did not adhere to the agreements laid out in the June 15th North-South delcaration, the Rodong said, and was instead preoccupied with the dismantling of the North’s nuclear capabilities.
Both Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye are members of the ruling conservative party, yet Park’s camp has indicated it will not be pursuing the same strategy as her predecessor.
“Through a trust-building process on the Korean Peninsula I intend 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” said Park, in her inauguration speech.
North Korean state media has not yet made any statements regarding Ms. Park’s inauguration.