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Park Geun-hye's inauguration to highlight patriotism, common touch

Publication Date : 04-02-2013


South Korea's President-elect Park Geun-hye’s inauguration ceremony on Feb. 25 will highlight her priority agenda of national unity and a more inclusive economy, her aides said.

The presidential inauguration preparation committee has picked “Opening the New Era of Hope” as the slogan and “Unity, Progress and Into the Lives of the People” as the theme of the ceremony to be held in the square in front of the National Assembly in Yeouido, Seoul.

The event will likely be recorded as the largest presidential inauguration since the transition to civilian rule in 1987. Nearly 60,000 attendees are expected, half of whom will be ordinary citizens, the transition committee said.

“The inaugural events will try to involve as many people from diverse corners as possible to have a meaningful ceremony that involves the people,” Kim Jin-sun, chief of the committee, told reporters recently.

According to transition team officials, 3.1 billion won is set aside for the inaugural ceremony, which is higher than the average amount spent by previous administrations.

The panel has selected medium-sized companies to execute various events and the hands-on details of the ceremony, bypassing the big-name companies that usually oversee events of such scale.

The decision is seen as an expression of her resolve to curb chaebol’s market domination and usher in economic democratisation.

Yonhanaro Communications, an event-planning firm of about 70 people that recorded sales of 24 billion won (US$22 million) in 2011, was selected as the promoter and planner of the inaugural ceremony.

The deliberate selection reflects Park’s strong determination to act out the governing philosophy of the new administration beginning from the inaugural ceremony, Kim said.

Park has also ordered the transition committee to limit the selection of companies to oversee other details of the ceremony, such as lighting and stage setting, to medium-sized companies with fewer than 300 employees and with yearly sales below 30 billion won.

Prior to the inauguration, Park will ring the bell at Bosingak in Seoul at midnight on February 25 with 18 representatives selected from across the country to signal the start of the new administration.

Before the official inauguration ceremony, a series of performances including traditional arts and K-pop will be staged. Korean pop star Psy, who rose to international fame with his mega-hit song “Gangnam Style”, will also take the stage, Kim said.

Yoon Ho-jin, director of the ceremony, said the event will be touching and entertaining.

“I think my duty is to direct an inaugural ceremony that will move people’s hearts,” said Yoon in a recent television interview.

“What is most important is to express the president-elect’s governing philosophy in the short amount of time (that is allotted) and in a way that is moving.”

Yoon, a renowned musical director, was tapped in mid-January to direct the ceremony. Yoon said he did not personally know Park, and that he learned of his appointment only “several minutes” before it was made public.

Yoon said that the inaugural ceremony will echo the themes of Park’s presidential campaign, stressing “unity and open communication, and also providing hope to the common people.”

Traditional Korean music played an integral role in his past hit musicals, and Yoon confirmed music would also likely play a large role in the ceremony, as “music is an embedded part of my body”.

Yoon is also known for pulling off surprising visual feats and unexpected stage acts in his shows. His production “The Last Empress” involved a revolving stage, and panoramic video screens were employed in “Hero”.

When asked if he has attentively watched previous inaugural ceremonies, Yoon replied: “No, not really. I was not that interested.”

However, he did add that he hoped to “change things quite a bit” compared to how previous inaugural ceremonies were performed, “regarding such notions as space, as well as entrance and exit, which are important in a show.”

Yoon, 65, is best known for directing historical musicals that tell the stories of suffering and heroic resistance against the Japanese encroachment of the Korean Peninsula that lasted from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century.

“The Last Empress,” which recounted the assassination of Empress Myeongseong of the short-lived Korean Empire (1895-1910) by a group of Japanese assassins, was popularly received when it was unveiled on stage in 1995, becoming the first Korean musical to draw over 1 million viewers.

More recently, Yoon directed “Hero”, which narrated the assassination of Ito Hirobumi, the architect behind the Japanese colonial rule of Korea, by Ahn Jung-geun, a Korean independence activist. Both shows made headlines for their blockbuster scale and patriotic themes.


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