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S. Korea to swear in first woman president

Published on Feb 25, 2013 6:14 AM
South Korea elected its first woman president on Dec 19, with voters handing a slim but historic victory to conservative candidate Park Geun-Hye, daughter of the country's former military ruler. -- PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (AFP) - Ms Park Geun-Hye, the daughter of South Korea's late military ruler, will be sworn in as the country's first female president on Monday in a ceremony shadowed by North Korea's recent nuclear test.

As leader of Asia's fourth-largest economy, Ms Park, 61, faces significant challenges, including the belligerent regime in the North, a slowing economy and soaring welfare costs in one of the world's most rapidly ageing societies.

Her inauguration speech is expected to focus on job creation, welfare expansion and national defence, while appealing for national unity at a time of growing concern with income and wealth disparity.

Ms Park had campaigned on a promise of greater, "trust-based" engagement with Pyongyang and her speech will be closely parsed for any indication of how she intends to handle North Korea at the beginning of her five-year term.

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