First female South Korean president faces North Korea crisis
SEOUL, South Korea — Park Geun-hye took office as South Korea’s first female president today, returning to the presidential mansion she had known as the daughter of a dictator, and where she will respond to volatile North Korea, which tested a nuclear device two weeks ago.
Elected in December, Park also must answer victims of her father’s 18-year dictatorship and address worries about a lack of jobs, a growing gap between rich and poor and a stagnant economy. There’s pressure for her to live up to her campaign suggestion that she can return the country to the strong economic growth her father oversaw, the so-called Miracle on the Han River.
North Korea’s underground atomic detonation tests her vow to soften Seoul’s current hard-line approach to its northern rival. Park called the Feb. 12 test “a challenge to the survival and future of the Korean people” and said Pyongyang should abandon its nuclear ambitions and work for peace.