New S Korean leader takes oath

INT

CHOE SANG-HUN

As South Korea's new president, Park Geun-hye, was sworn into an office her father held until his assassination 33 years ago, she faced far more complicated fissures both within South Korea and with North Korea than her father did during his Cold War dictatorship.

Park, 61, the daughter of Park Chung-hee, was inaugurated Monday as the first female president of South Korea, calling for the revival of an economic boom her father had once overseen and urging North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons development.

After her inauguration in front of the National Assembly, her motorcade moved through a downtown Seoul packed with well-wishers - a triumphant moment for her and old South Koreans loyal to her father. She was returning to her childhood home, the presidential Blue House, the centre of her father's 18-year, iron-fisted rule that was much maligned among South Koreans during the struggle for democracy.

She was elected as South Korea's 18th president on December 19, thanks largely to the support of South Koreans in their 50s and older who grew disenchanted with fractured politics and hankered for a figure like her father. Under his leadership, South Korea began its evolution from a country where per-capita income was just $100 a year into what is now a global economic powerhouse whose smartphones, cars and ships are exported. But unlike her father, who kept South Korea orderly if gagged, Park must struggle to win back younger and liberal South Koreans who have no fear of speaking out against her.

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