First female South Korean president takes office

Associated Press
In this Feb. 22, 2013 photo, South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye, left, listens to Deputy commander, Republic of Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command Gen. Kwon Oh-sung during her visit at the Combined Forces Command in Seoul, South Korea. Even before she takes office Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, as South Korea's first female president, Park's campaign vow to soften Seoul's current hard-line approach to rival North Korea is being tested by Pyongyang's recent underground nuclear detonation. Pyongyang, Washington, Beijing and Tokyo are all watching to see if Park, the daughter of a staunchly anti-communist dictator, 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. (AP Photo/Yonhap) KOREA OUT
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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Park Geun-hye has become South Korea's first female president and returned to the presidential mansion where she grew up with her dictator father.

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.

Park technically took over as the clock struck midnight. Her swearing-in ceremony Monday was to be attended by tens of thousands, including international dignitaries.

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