The Full text of the 18th Presidential Inauguration Speech
Feb 25, 2013
My fellow Koreans and seven million fellow compatriots overseas,
As I take office as President of the Republic of Korea to serve in the 18th term, I stand before you today with a determination to open a new era of hope.
I am profoundly grateful to the Korean people for entrusting this historic mission to me. I also thank President Lee Myung-bak, the former Presidents, the dignitaries who have come from abroad to celebrate this occasion and other distinguished guests for their presence.
As President, I will live up to the will of the people by achieving economic revival, happiness for the people and cultural enrichment.
I will do my utmost to build a strong and prosperous Republic of Korea where happiness prevails.
The Republic of Korea as we know it today has been built on the blood, toil and sweat of the people.
We have written a new history of extraordinary achievement simultaneously accomplishing industrialization and democratization based on the unwavering “can-do” spirit of the people and their matching potential.
The Korean saga that is often referred to as the "Miracle on the Han River” was written by the Korean people who worked tirelessly in the mines of Germany, in the torrid deserts of the Middle East, in factories and laboratories where the lights never went off and on the freezing frontlines safeguarding national defense. This Miracle was only possible due to the outstanding caliber of the Korean people and their unstinting devotion to both family and country.
I pay my heartfelt tribute to all my fellow Koreans who have made the Republic of Korea what it is today.
In the vortex of our turbulent contemporary history, we always prevailed over the countless hardships and adversities.
Today, we continue to be confronted with a global economic crisis and outstanding security challenges, including the North Korean nuclear threat.
At the same time, capitalism faces new challenges in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.
The tasks we face today are unlike any we have confronted before. And they can only be overcome by our charting a new pathway.
Forging a new path is seldom an easy task.
But I have faith in the Korean people.
I believe in their resilience and in the potential of our dynamic nation.
Together with the proud people of Korea, I pledge to embark on the making of a “Second Miracle on the Han River” premised on a new era of hope.
I will usher in a new era of hope; the happiness of each citizen will become the bedrock of our nation’s strength, which in turn will benefit all Koreans.
My fellow countrymen,
Today, I would like to propose a new way forward on the basis of a mutually reinforcing cycle of national advancement and the happiness of the people.
The new Administration will usher in a new era of hope premised on economic revival, happiness for the people, and cultural enrichment.
To begin with, I will work for a creative economy and economic democratization.
We are witnessing an economic paradigm shift across the world.
The convergence of science and technology with industry, the fusion of culture with industry and the blossoming of creativity made possible by the breaking down of barriers between industries define a creative economy.
It is about creating new markets and new jobs by building on the bedrock of convergence, going beyond simply expanding existing markets.
At the very heart of a creative economy lie science, technology and the IT industry, areas that I have earmarked as key priorities.
I will raise the quality of our science and technology to world-class levels. The creative economy will be brought to fruition by applying the results of such endeavors across the board.
The new Administration’s Ministry of Future Planning and Science will be tasked with leading the emergence of a creative economy in tandem with this new paradigm.
People are the nucleus of a creative economy. We live in an age where a single individual can raise the value of an entire nation and even help in rescuing the economy.
New opportunities to serve the country will be opened to numerous talented Koreans thriving across the global village. And for those at home who are equally capable, efforts will be enhanced to foster them into convergence leaders imbued with creativity and passion as pillars of a future Korea.
In order for a creative economy to truly blossom, economic democratization must be achieved.
I believe strongly that only when a fair market is firmly in place can everyone have hope and work to their fullest potential.
One of my critical economic goals is to ensure that anyone that works hard can stand on their own two feet and that small and medium-sized enterprises can prosper alongside large companies through small business promotion policies.
By rooting out various unfair business dealings that frustrate micro-business owners and small and medium-sized enterprises and by rectifying the wrong practices of the past, we will provide active support to ensure that everyone can realize their full capabilities, regardless of where they work or what they do for a living.
Only when the major players in our economy come together as one and pool their strengths can we bring happiness to the people and enhance our nation’s competitiveness.
It is on this foundation that I will help revive our economy and realize a “Second Miracle on the Han River” that culminates in the happiness of the Korean people.
Happiness for the People
No matter how much the country advances, such gains would be meaningless if the lives of the people remained insecure.
A genuine era of happiness will only be possible when there is no anxiety about life after retirement and when bearing and raising children is truly considered a blessing.
No citizen should be left to fear that he or she might not be able to meet the basic requirements of life.
A new paradigm of tailored welfare will free citizens from such anxieties and allow them to prosper in their own professions, maximize their potentials and contribute to the nation’s development.
I believe that enabling people to fulfill their dreams and opening a new era of hope begins with education.
We need to provide active support so that education brings out the best of an individual’s latent abilities, and we need to establish a new system that fosters national development on the stepping-stones of each individual’s capabilities.
There is a saying, "They who know the truth are not equal to those who love it, and they who love it are not equal to those who delight in it."
The day of true happiness will only come when an increasing number of people are able to enjoy learning and love what they do.
The most important asset for any country is its people.
The future holds little promise when individual ability is stifled and when the only name of the game is rigid competition that smothers creativity.
I have long held the conviction that harnessing the potential of every child is the force that propels a nation forward.
Our educational system will be improved so that students can discover their talents and strengths in pursuit of their precious dreams and be judged by that. This will enable them to make the best use of their talent upon entering society.
There is no place for an individual’s dreams, talents or hopes in a society where everything is determined by one’s academic background and list of credentials.
We will transform our society from one that stresses academic credentials to one that is merit based so that each individual’s dreams and gifts can bear fruit.
It goes without saying that protecting the lives and ensuring the safety of the people is a critical element of a happy nation.
The new Administration will focus its efforts on building a safe society where women, people with disabilities, or anyone else for that matter, can feel secure as they carry on with their lives, no matter where they are in the country.
We will build a society where just laws prevail, rather than the heavy hand of power, and where the law serves as a shield of justice for society’s underprivileged.
A Cultural Enrichment
In the 21st century, culture is power. This is an era when an individual’s imagination becomes creative content.
As the “Korean Wave” is captivating people around the world, it is becoming a source of joy and happiness as well as abiding pride for all Koreans. This has been built on the foundation of Korea's splendid cultural heritage of tangible and intangible assets dating back thousands of years as well as our ethos.
The new Administration will uphold our ethos and spread the value of our culture throughout society for the cultural enrichment of all citizens.
We will harness the innate value of culture in order to heal social conflicts and bridge cultural divides separating different regions, generations and social strata. We will build a nation that becomes happier through culture, where culture is woven into the fabric of daily life and where the welfare system embodies cultural values.
Creative activities across a wide range of genres will be supported, while a content industry that merges culture with advanced technology will be nurtured. In so doing, we will ignite the engine of a creative economy and create new jobs.
Together with the Korean people, my Administration will foster a new cultural enrichment ?a time for culture to flourish, transcending ethnicity and languages, overcoming ideologies and customs, contributing to the peaceful development of humanity and spreading happiness.
My Fellow Koreans,
Happiness can only flourish when people feel comfortable and secure. I pledge to you today that I will not tolerate any action that threatens the lives of our people and the security of our nation.
North Korea’s recent nuclear test is a challenge to the survival and future of the Korean people, and there should be no mistaking that the biggest victim will be none other than North Korea itself.
I urge North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions without delay and embark on the path to peace and shared development.
It is my sincere hope that North Korea can progress together as a responsible member of the international community instead of wasting its resources on nuclear and missile development and continuing to turn its back to the world in self-imposed isolation. There is no doubt that we are faced today with an extremely serious security environment; we cannot afford to remain where we are.
Through a trust-building process on the Korean Peninsula, I intend to lay the groundwork for an era of harmonious unification where all Koreans can lead more prosperous and freer lives and achieve their dreams.
I will move forward step by step to build trust between the South and the North on the basis of credible deterrence.
Trust can be built through dialogue and by honoring promises that have already been made. It is my hope that North Korea will abide by international norms and make the right choices so that the trust-building process on the Korean Peninsula can move forward.
The era of happiness that I envision is one that simultaneously unlocks an era of happiness on the whole Korean Peninsula while also contributing to ushering in an era of happiness throughout the global community.
To ease tensions and conflicts and further spread peace and cooperation in Asia, I will work to strengthen trust with countries in the region, including the United States, China, Japan, Russia and other Asian and Oceanic countries.
Moreover, I envision a Korea that shares more deeply the travails of others while also contributing to the resolution of key global issues.
Today I assume my duties as President of the Republic of Korea to serve in the 18th presidential term. Let me assure you that I will journey with the people who have bestowed this tremendous responsibility upon me to truly open a new era of hope.
The responsibility for governing the nation falls on the shoulders of the President, and the fate of the nation is determined by the people. I ask for your active cooperation and support as we take the Republic of Korea on a new path.
We stand on the threshold of a new era when our nation and people must walk together and when the nation’s development and the people’s happiness form a mutually reinforcing cycle.
The success of our journey hinges on mutual confidence and trust between the Government and the people and on our ability to move forward in partnership.
I will earn the trust of the people by ensuring that my Administration remains clean, transparent and competent. I will help the public shed their distrust of government and build up the capital of trust.
I humbly ask all of you to pool your strength, wherever you may be, not only for your own individual interests but also for the common good.
In the needy days of our past, we shared with each other whatever we had. Even in the midst of hardship, our ancestors had the generosity of mind to leave aside a few persimmons for the magpies during the harvest season. We descend from a people that had traditions of communal sharing and mutual aid through gye and pumasi.
Reviving that spirit once again and building a society of responsible and considerate people, we can be confident that our shared dream of a new era of happiness is truly within our reach.
Such a spirit will offer a new model for capitalism, which has lost its bearings, and set an example for addressing the uncertain future that confronts our world.
I ask that you place your trust in my Administration and in me and join us along the path to a new future.
Let us all work together towards a New Era of Hope and Happiness so that we can all become partners in creating the Second Miracle on the Han River.
Thank you very much.
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