Posted : 2013-02-25 18:18
Updated : 2013-02-25 18:18

`We'll have 2nd Miracle on the Han'

President Park Geun-hye returns a salute to a military honor guard during her swearing-in ceremony at the National Assembly in Yeouido, Monday. At bottom right, Park in traditional clothing walks into the executive building at Cheong Wa Dae. / Yonhap

President Park promises economic justice, tells N. Korea to forgo nukes

By Kim Tae-gyu

President Park Geun-hye promised to introduce a new era of hope Monday by invigorating the economy, boosting people's happiness and promoting culture.

During her inaugural address as 18th President at the National Assembly, Korea's first woman head of state said that a creative economy combined with fair competition will lead to a "Second Miracle on the Han River."

Park, who started her first day by receiving reports as commander in chief midnight Sunday, also urged North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions, claiming the North itself would be the biggest victim.

"The new administration will usher in a new era of hope premised on revitalizing the economy, the happiness of our people, and the blossoming of our culture," Park said before some 70,000 attendants at the swearing-in ceremony.

"To begin with, economic revitalization is going to be propelled by a creative economy and economic democratization."

The 61-year-old defined a creative economy as the convergence of science and technology with industry as well as the fusion of culture with business on the back of creativity.

Park said that a creative economy can lead to a "second miracle" only when a fair market is firmly in place so that conglomerates and small companies can prosper together.

Referring to the fast economic growth of Korea during the late 20th century, the "Miracle of the Han River" has been credited to Park's father, the late strongman Park Chung-hee.

"By rooting out various unfair practices and rectifying the misguided habits of the past which have frustrated small business owners and small- and medium-sized enterprises, we will provide active support to ensure that everyone can live up to their fullest potential, regardless of where they work or what they do for a living," she said.

"It is on this foundation that 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."

Park's commitment to economic democratization, her key campaign pledge, rebuffed suspicions that her administration had put this on the back burner by excluding it from the recently announced five major missions.

She pointed out that economic achievements do not automatically guarantee people's happiness if their life is not underpinned by a social safety net and enriched by culture.

To perfect people's happiness, she said the new administration will seek customized welfare and creativity-centered education on top of economic development.

The President made it clear that her plans can only be attained with the stability on the Korean Peninsula free from threats by North Korea, which carried out its third nuclear test on Feb. 12.

"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," she said.

"I urge North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions without delay and embark on the path to peace and shared development."

However, she kept the dialogue door open. Such a stick-and-carrot approach is the kernel of her flagship North Korea policy called the "Korean Peninsula Trust Process."

"I will move forward step by step on the basis of credible deterrence to build trust between the South and the North," she said.

"Trust can be built through dialogue, and by honoring promises that have already been made. It is my hope that North Korea will abide by international norms and make the right choice so that the trust-building process on the Korean Peninsula can move forward."

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