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Wednesday, February 25, 1998 Published at 10:54 GMT

World: Monitoring

Kim Dae Jung's inauguration speech: South Korean report

The new President of South Korea, Kim Dae Jung, has been sworn into office. In his inauguration speech, he said he was willing to hold a summit with North Korea, and predicted more hard times ahead for the South Korean economy. Below are details of his address from South Korea's Yonhap news agency:

Text of report by Yonhap news agency

Seoul, 25th February: President Kim Dae Jung, sworn in Wednesday [25th February] as South Korea's first president from the opposition camp in constitutional history, beseeched economic resurrection and across-the-board reforms.

Addressing the crowd of more than 45,000 people in front of the National Assembly, Kim delivered his inauguration speech appraising the day as "a historical day in which a government that champions both democratic and economic development is established".

[ image: Kim was regarded for years as South Korea's leading dissident]
Kim was regarded for years as South Korea's leading dissident
Kim, a life-time opposition leader, takes office in the second peaceful transfer of power after predecessor Kim Yong-sam, who was the first civilian president to be elected after a series of military juntas.

His presidency begins amid the most serious economic depression with successive corporate bankruptcies and a grave foreign exchange crisis.

"The country faces danger and collapse in all areas including politics, economy, society, diplomacy and inter-Korean relations, " said Kim. "Political reform has to come first before all."

He vowed against political revenge of any kind by his government and said he will not allow any discrimination based on regionalism.

He warned of a gloomy economic forecast, year-round inflation, unemployment hike, income reduction and corporate collapses.

"This kind of misfortune would not have happened if the leaders who led the nation's politics, economy and finance did not resort to collusion with the government or rely on a government-controlled economy," Kim said.

[ image: The striking of a bell and lighting of bonfires marked the start of celebrations]
The striking of a bell and lighting of bonfires marked the start of celebrations
He also blamed multi-tentacled conglomerates which were more busy expanding their size than building international competitiveness. "Responsibility for this kind of disaster has to be accounted for in front of the people," he said, renewing his determination to hold a public hearing on the issue.

Kim said his "small but powerful government" is tasked with overcoming economic debacle and seeking a whole new start.

"If democracy and market economy harmonize and develop in tandem, then there will be no collusion between government and business circles, no government-controlled finance, no corruption and irregularities," said the president.

He recalled the five promises by the conglomerates, stressing he intends to see to it that businesses engage in transparent management, stop cross-guaranteeing debt payments, concentrate on building sound financial structure, limit the number of their key businesses and reprimand company leaders for mismanagement.

On inter-Korean relations, Kim said he hopes to abide fully with the basic agreement signed in 1991. He proposed exchange of special envoys as stated in the agreement, adding that he is willing to accept an inter-Korean summit if North Korea desires. The president appealed to the North to allow family reunions for the elderly, hoping also for wide exchanges in culture, education and economy. "The new government will keep its promise on building light-water reactors in North Korea despite economic difficulties," Kim said.

"We will not be tight-fisted about lending food assistance to North Korea by government and civilians through reasonable means." Kim pledged economic reforms as well, calling it the core to solving social problems.

Saying he will brave all obstacles, Kim vowed to dramatically alter the college entrance exam system and abate the private tutoring frenzy.

Kim's five-year term officially began as of midnight but his first duty as president will be the signing of appointment bills on the prime minister and head of board of audit and inspection.

Source: Yonhap news agency, Seoul, in English 0157 gmt 25 Feb 98

BBC Monitoring (, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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