President Yoon Suk Yeol, the nation's 20th head of state, on the morning of May 10 was inaugurated at National Assembly Plaza in the Yeouido area of Seoul's Yeongdeungpo-gu District to begin a five-year term.
In his inauguration speech, the new chief executive said, "I stand before you today, humbled by the trust and responsibility that you have given me and mindful of my solemn duty to rebuild this great nation. 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."
Mentioning the pandemic crisis, social conflict and polarization, he stressed the value of "freedom" to resolve such hardships.
"We must clearly define ― and unequivocally reaffirm ― the real meaning of freedom," the president said. "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."
He also emphasized "creativity" and "cooperation" in the process of economic growth.
"It is critical that we achieve rapid growth and this will only be possible through science, technology and innovation," he added. "We must work together with other like-minded nations that respect freedom and encourage creativity."
On policy toward North Korea, the president said, "While North Korea's nuclear weapon programs are a threat not only to our security and that of Northeast Asia, the door to dialogue will remain open so that we can peacefully resolve this threat."
"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."
"It is incumbent upon us to take on a greater role befitting our stature as a global leader. We must actively protect and promote universal values and international norms that are based on freedom and respect for human rights," he added. "I solemnly pledge today that I will do my utmost to elevate Korea into a country that truly belongs to the people. A country based on the pillars of freedom, human rights, fairness and solidarity."
Under the slogan, "Again, Republic of Korea! A new nation of the people" (unofficial translation), the ceremony saw 41,000 people attend including former presidents Moon Jae-in and Park Geun-hye, VIPs from in and out of the country, parliamentary and government officials, business figures and invited civilians.
At midnight that day, President Yoon became commander-in-chief at the situation room (underground bunker) of the National Emergency Management System located under the recently relocated presidential office in Seoul's Yongsan-gu District.