South Korean music star Psy performed his mega-hit 'Gangnam Style' at the inauguration of his country's first woman President, Park Geun-Hye. (Feb. 25)
SOURCE - ASSOCIATED PRESS / AP CLIENTS ONLY
Location - Date: Seoul, South Korea / February 25, 2013
Park Geun-hye became South Korea's first female president on Monday, returning to the presidential mansion where she grew up with her dictator father.
Park technically took over as the clock struck midnight.
Her swearing-in ceremony was attended by tens of thousands and included a performance by South Korean superstar PSY, who rose to surprising global fame last year with his song "Gangnam Style."
Park's last stint in the Blue House was bookended by tragedy: At 22, she cut short her studies in Paris to return to Seoul and act as President Park Chung-hee's first lady after an assassin targeting her father instead killed her mother; she left five years later after her father was shot and killed by his spy chief during a drinking party.
As president, Park will face stark divisions both in South Korean society and with rival North Korea, which detonated an underground nuclear device about two weeks ago.
South Koreans worry about a growing gap between rich and poor, and there's pressure for her to live up to her campaign suggestion that she can return the country to the strong economic growth her strong-man father oversaw.
North Korea's atomic test will also present a challenge to her vow to soften Seoul's current hard-line approach to its northern rival.
Pyongyang, Washington, Beijing and Tokyo are all watching to see if Park pursues an ambitious engagement policy meant to ease five years of animosity on the divided peninsula or if she sticks with the tough stance of her fellow conservative predecessor, Lee Myung-bak.
Critics say Park's North Korea policy lacks specifics.
They also question how far she can go given her conservative base's strong anti-Pyongyang sentiments.
But Park has previously confounded ideological expectations.
She travelled to Pyongyang in 2002 and held private talks with the late Kim Jong Il, the father of Kim Jong Un, and her gifts to Kim Jong Il are showcased in a museum of gifts to the North Korean leaders.
During the often contentious presidential campaign, she responded to liberal criticism by reaching out to the families of victims of her father's dictatorship.