As he was sworn in as Korea’s 20th president on May 10, President Yoon Suk-yeol emphasized values such as freedom, human rights, fairness and solidarity.
In his inaugural speech, he emphasized liberal democracy and economic growth, saying freedom and rapid growth could resolve the multiple challenges the nation faces.
“It is our generation’s calling to build a nation that espouses liberal democracy and ensures a thriving market economy, a nation that fulfills its responsibility as a trusted member of the international community, and a nation that truly belongs to the people,” President Yoon said.
President Yoon made the remarks before about 41,000 people on hand at his inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Yeouido, Seoul, saying that domestic and international issues cannot be separated.
Among those participants at the event were former president Moon Jae-in and Park Geun-hye, Halimah Yacob, President of the Republic of Singapore, Faustin Archange Touadera, President of the Central African Republic, Wang Qishan, Vice President of the People‘s Republic of China, Diah Permata Megawati Soekarnoputri, Former President of the Republic of Indonesia, Douglas Craig Emhoff, Second Gentleman of the United States of America, George J. Furey, Speaker of the Senate of Canada, And Hayashi Yoshimasa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan.
“Today, we are faced with multiple crises. Pandemics that are fundamentally altering the way we live; fast-evolving trade regimes and rearrangements in the global supply chains that are impacting our economies; climate change, food and energy crises that are causing havoc around the world; armed conflicts and wars are complex crises that no one country or a group of countries can resolve on their own. Such complex, multi-faceted crises are casting a long and dark shadow over us,” he said.
“Domestically, many countries, including Korea, are experiencing record-low growth and rising unemployment. Many countries are witnessing an ever-widening gap in wages and polarization within society. Internal strife and discord are deepening which has led many of our fellow citizens to lose their sense of community and belonging,” Yoon said.
“The political process which has the responsibility to address and resolve these issues has failed due to a crisis in democracy and one of the main reasons for such failure is the troubling spread of anti-intellectualism,” he said.
When individuals disagree on certain issues and seek to reach a compromise, they can only do so when scientific facts and the truth works as the basis of their discussions. This is rationalism and intellectualism that is the foundation of democracy,” President Yoon said.
“However, nothing is impossible. We can overcome the challenges that we face today and the ones that we will undoubtedly have to face in the future. Koreans have a long and proud history that demonstrates our unshakable resolve.
Throughout our history, we came together in times of crises. Each of us pitched in and contributed whatever we could. Koreans never succumbed; we became stronger and wiser,” he said.
“Freedom is a universal value. Every citizen and every member of society must be able to enjoy freedom. If one’s freedom is infringed upon or left uncorrected, this is an assault on everyone’s freedom. Freedom is not something only for the winner to enjoy.
In order for everyone to enjoy freedom, everyone must be allowed to enjoy a certain level of economic freedom; everyone must be guaranteed the right to receive quality education and everyone must be granted the freedom to access and experience various cultural activities. One cannot be considered a true citizen absent such freedom,” he said.
“If North Korea genuinely embarks on a process to complete denuclearization, we are prepared to work with the international community to present an audacious plan that will vastly strengthen North Korea’s economy and improve the quality of life for its people,” Yoon said.
“North Korea’s denuclearization will greatly contribute to bringing lasting peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and beyond,” he said.