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S. Korea's pres-elect pledges 'new era' on Korean peninsula

South Korea's President-elect Park Geun-Hye has promised a serious stance on security issues while pledging "trust based diplomacy" with North Korea. This comes a week after a successful North Korean rocket launch.

Park delivered her first policy speech on Thursday a day after she was elected as South Korea's first woman president. She promised to take a tough stance when it came to security issues, referring specifically to North Korea.

"The launch of North Korea's long-range missile symbolically showed how grave the security situation facing us is," she said in Seoul.

But Park also said she would seek to engage North Korea and try and improve relations.

"I will keep the promise I made to you to open a new era on the Korean peninsula, based on strong security and trust-based diplomacy," she said.

Looking beyond North Korea, Park also alluded to boosting ties in greater northeast Asia, including Japan and China. She said, however, that relationships between Asian nations must be based on a "correct perception of history," a likely allusion to South Korea's former colonial rulers, Japan.

Seeking to distance herself from her father, former military ruler Park Chung-Hee, Park acknowledged on Thursday abuses that took place under her father's regime and issued apologies to the families of victims.

Park Chung-hee is a polarizing figure in South Korea, having seized power in a 1961 military coup. During his 18 years of rule, he is credited with helping bring about the country's economic rise, but is also vilified for human rights abuses committed under his regime.

Park served in the presidential palace, the Blue House, as her father's first lady in the 1970s following the death of her mother who was killed by a North Korean-backed gunman.

Wednesday's elections saw Park defeat her liberal opponent, Moon Jae-in, with 51.6 percent of the vote compared to Moon's 48 percent.

mz/hc (AFP, dpa, Reuters)