New South Korean president takes office amid tensions with Pyongyang

South Korea will invest its new president Yoon Suk-yeol on Tuesday in a ceremony overshadowed by the recent spate of weapons tests by its northern neighbor.

A 61-year-old conservative, Yoon takes office for a five-year term in which he has promised a tough stance against North Korea, which has re-launched its military tests this year amid fears of a resumption of its nuclear program.

Victorious in tight elections in March, this former political novice prosecutor comes to power with a 41% approval rating, one of the lowest in South Korea’s democratic history for a first term, according to a recent poll by Gallup.

Few elements of his investiture speech have been revealed, which, according to the media, will deal with three key concepts: freedom, market, equality.

– “Severity” towards Pyongyang –

The new president has promised more aggressive diplomacy after his predecessor Moon Jae-in’s failed attempts at rapprochement with North Korea.

Following his victory, Yoon said he would “deal severely” with the threat posed by Kim Jong Un’s regime. “But the door to dialogue is still open,” she declared to his militants.

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During his campaign, he referred to Kim Jong Un as a “rude kid” who he was going to “teach good manners.”

Yoon also called for a stronger relationship with the United States, his main ally against Pyongyang, and met with its president Joe Biden, who is due to visit the Asian country at the end of May.

Domestically, public opinion’s growing frustration with Moon Jae-in’s liberal government appears to be at the root of his rival’s victory.

Moon won the 2017 presidential election promising to roll out a program based on equal opportunities in the world’s 10th economy after the impeachment of his predecessor Park Geun-hye, mired in a corruption scandal.

But later he was accused of leniency with his own aides who admitted to taking bribes and criticized for his economic policies that, in the opinion of some, aggravated the country’s inequalities.

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