SEOUL, South Korea ( Associated Press) — Conservative Yoon Suk Yeol was sworn in as South Korea’s president on Tuesday and faces a more difficult mix of domestic and international challenges than the nation’s other recent rulers.
The former attorney general began his five-year term at midnight Monday, assuming command of the 555,000-strong South Korean military and being briefed by his military chief on the situation with North Korea in his new presidential office in downtown Seoul, used to be the Ministry of Defense building.
Won In-Choul, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told him in a video conference that North Korea is ready to carry out a nuclear test if its chairman Kim Jong Un so decides. Yoon ordered military commanders to maintain strong military preparedness, saying the “security situation on the Korean Peninsula is very serious.”
Yoon will be sworn in and deliver his inaugural address Tuesday morning at a formal ceremony in the capital.
Since winning the election in March, Yoon, a supporter of a tougher stance on North Korea, has been denied a grace period. Polls show that less than 60% of those interviewed expect him to do well during his administration, an unusually low figure compared to his predecessors, who mostly received between 80% and 90% before take the shit
His approval rating as president-elect was 41%, according to a Gallup Korea poll released last week that put his predecessor Moon Jae-in’s approval rating at 45%.
Yoon’s low popularity is partly attributed to a sharp divide between conservatives and liberals, and controversial policies and cabinet appointments. Some experts say Yoon, inexperienced in foreign policy, also has no clear vision of how to manage the world’s 10th largest economy amid challenges such as the development of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, the intensifying rivalry between United States and China, and the recovery from the pandemic.
Associated Press reporter Kim Tong-hyung contributed to this report.