Park, the 61-year-old daughter of late military strongman Park Chung Hee, faces challenges of slowing growth and soaring welfare costs in one of the world’s most rapidly aging societies.
Taking the oath of office less than two weeks after North Korea carried out its third nuclear test, Park called on the regime in Pyongyang to “abandon its nuclear ambitions without delay” and rejoin the international community.
“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 will not tolerate any action that threatens the lives of our people and the security of our nation,” Park said, while promising to pursue the trust-building policy with Pyongyang that she had promised in her campaign.
“I will move forward step by step on the basis of credible deterrence,” she added.