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President Yoon begins term with fist bumps

May 10, 2022 - 14:51 By Im Eun-byel
People gather to enter President Yoon Suk-yeol`s inauguration ceremony in front of the National Assembly in Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

President Yoon Suk-yeol was sworn into office Tuesday with the kind of large inauguration ceremony that his predecessor missed out on.

The event was held at the National Assembly, with some 41,000 people in attendance, including former President Moon Jae-in and his wife Kim Jung-sook, former President Park Geun-hye, officials from the government and National Assembly, diplomatic delegations and more.

After paying his respects at Seoul National Cemetery in the morning, Yoon arrived at the National Assembly, greeting the people, backed by the music from the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and Heart to Heart Orchestra, consisting of members with developmental disabilities.

The grounds of the National Assembly were decorated in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the proclamation of Children’s Day. Pictures, drawn by children under the theme of what Korea will be like in the future.

Arriving at the ceremony, Yoon greeted the people with fist bumps.

Yoon went on the stage with selected 20 people, including actor O Yeong-su, who played the famed “Kanbu grandfather” in the megahit Netflix series “Squid Game,” David Linton, who is the descendant of an early US missionary, and more.

While Yoon and his wife Kim Keon-hee, former President Moon Jae-in and his wife Kim Jung-sook took their seats on the stage, former President Park Geun-hye was also seated in the middle of the front row, along with diplomatic delegations.

For the pledge of allegiance, Jeon Joon-young, survivor of the sunken South Korean naval ship Cheonan along with a military officer, police officer and a firefighter took the podium.

Yoon has previously stressed the need to respect those who have sacrificed their lives for the country, mentioning “They are the heroes who shaped and protected Korea” in June.

Choi Song-ryong, head of a group of families of those kidnapped by North Korea, Cho Won-il, former captain of Cheonan, and families of those who lost their lives while on duty, were present at the ceremony, too.

The preparation team for the inaugural ceremony said it focused on inviting “hidden heroes” who are working for the community.

For the national anthem, vocalist Yeon Kwang-cheol and the Rainbow Choir, consisting of children from multicultural families, took the stage.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum, who will hold the post until his replacement or Yoon’s deputy prime minister is appointed, welcomed in the new administration.

“The new government takes its first step today, announcing the grand hope to open a new era for Korea of fairness and common sense, freedom and integration,” Kim said. “I thank and pay my respect to former President Moon Jae-in who has retired after a five-year term.”

“I, along with everyone, hope Yoon’s administration can gather people and lead the growth of Korea within the next five years,” he said.

After taking his oath, Yoon made a 15-minute long in augural address.

The audience then watched Cheong Wa Dae open its doors to the public for the first time in 74 years, as Yoon has moved his presidential office to the Ministry of Defense complex in Yongsan, central Seoul.

Moving the office to Yongsan and opening the grounds of Cheong Wa Dae is one of the first projects pursued by Yoon’s office, representing its will to communicate with the public more.

After the ceremony, Yoon saw off former President Moon Jae-in and first lady Kim Jung-sook, unaccompanied by his wife Kim Keon-hee.

The new first lady, however, joined Yoon to bid farewell to former President Park Geun-hye, who left immediately after Moon.

On his way out, Yoon greeted members of the public with fist bumps. Even after embarking on his vehicle, he waved his hand to the people on the streets of Yeouido who had been waiting to see the new president.

Before starting work at the office, he met with the residents of Yongsan, visiting a rest area and a children’s park in the area.

By Im Eun-byel (