S. Korea's Park calls for reconciliation

Dec. 20, 2012 at 10:20 AM
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SEOUL, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Park Geun-hye, the first woman to lead South Korea, called for national reconciliation Thursday.

The 60-year-old president-elect from the ruling Saenuri Party, won Wednesday's election with slightly more than 51 percent of the vote against Moon Jae-in of the main opposition Democratic United Party.

"I will reflect various opinions of the people, whether they have supported or opposed me," Ms. Park said in a speech.

While calling for "national harmony" and "reconciliation," Park said she would bring people into her government "regardless of their regional background, gender and generation."

North Korean leaders likely will watch Park closely as they gauge how to react to the new leader in Seoul, observers said.

While North Korea has not formally responded to Park's victory, it has criticized her over her North Korea policy plans she discussed during the campaign, Yonhap reported.

The president-elect has vowed to improve ties with North Korea without endangering South Korea's national security or sovereignty. Inter-Korean relations had soured during the administration of President Lee Myung-bak, who couldn't seek re-election by law.

"Rather than attacking Park, it looks like North Korea will first explore her policies on the North," Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, told Yonhap.

Another North Korean studies professor, Yoo Ho-Yeol at Korea University in Seoul, said North Korea could pressure the Park administration "to make a choice between confrontation and dialogue."

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