South Korea swears in first female president, Park Geun-hye

Daughter of former military ruler has tough words for North Korea

South Korea's new President Park Geun-hye at her inauguration in Seoul, South Korea on Feb. 25, 2013. (Kim Hong-Ji/AP)

Park Geun-gye officially became South Korea’s first female president Monday and she did so with tough words for North Korea.

“I urge North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions without delay and embark on the path to peace and shared development,” she said in her inauguration address. She also told North Korea it shouldn’t waste its scarce resources on its nuclear program, reports Reuters.

Park, 61, is a right-wing politician and is the daughter of former South Korean military leader Park Chung-hee, who ruled the country in the ’60s and ’70s until he was assassinated. Park’s mother, Yuk Young-soo, was also assassinated, forcing Park to return from studies abroad to act as South Korea’s first lady when she was just 22.

Park replaces fellow conservative president Lee Myung-bak.

Besides the issue of dealing with North Korea, one of Park’s other challenges will be addressing the South Korean economy. She used the term “Miracle on the Han,” during her inauguration speech, a reference to rapid economic growth under her father’s rule after the Korean War. “I will breathe new energy into our economy and realize a second miracle on the Han River that culminates in the happiness of the Korean people,” she said.

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