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Take Off toward Age of Peace and Prosperity

Posted February. 25, 2003 22:22,   


Roh Moo-hyun was sworn in as 16th president and started his single five-year term in office on Feb. 25.

At an inauguration ceremony held in the square in front of the National Assembly at 11:00 the same day, Mr. Roh declared the start of "a participatory government," stressing the new government would pursue democracy with people based on reform and unity, establish a society with balanced development, and open an era of Northeast Asia based on peace and prosperity.

In his inaugural speech titled "New Take off Toward an Age of Peace and Prosperity," he disclosed his vision of "community of peace and prosperity" for the nation, suggesting that though "we have been on the boundary for a long period of time in world history, now we are to mark a turning point with an opportunity to play an active part as a major player in an era of Northeast Asia."

Saying that in order to herald a real age of Northeast Asia, peace should be established institutionally on the Korean Peninsula, he made a statement suggesting four points for policy of peace and prosperity toward North Korea. These include solution of problems through dialogue; mutual trust and reciprocity; pursuit of international cooperation based on principles drawn by North and South Korea; and public participation and bipartisan cooperation.

Regarding the North’s nuclear ambitions, the new president said, "Pyongyang should give up nuclear weapons development, and if they do so, the international community will provide much of what they want. The North should choose between possession of nuclear weapons and promises for assurance of security and economic aid."

As to the U.S.- Korean relations, the new president said, "We are going to consider the alliance between the two countries important and develop into mature ones based on much more equal footing."

And he continued, "The age in which foul play and privilege are allowed should come to an end, and the atmosphere where opportunists can get the upper hand should be removed. We should march toward a society where principles are put in place and those working hard in a right way can make it."

With respect to reform drives of the new government, the former human rights lawyer decided to have dialogue with opposition parties to set up a new political culture in which problems reach resolution through talks and mutual concession. He also said that he would reform markets and institutions to world level and root out corruption and irregularities for sustainable economic growth and healthy society.

Putting emphasis on national unity, which is a priority for this new era, he asserted that he would take every measure to eradicate regional hostility.

At the inauguration ceremony were 45,000 people including former presidents Kim Dae-jung, Kim Young-sam, Roh Tae-woo, Chun Doo-hwan, and Choi Kyu-ha. Also foreign dignitaries including Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, US Secretary of state Colin Powell, Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Qian Qichen, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov attended the ceremony.

Jeong-Hun Kim jnghn@donga.com