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(LEAD) Park Geun-hye to be sworn in as new S. Korean president Monday
SEOUL, Feb. 24 (Yonhap) -- Park Geun-hye will be sworn in as South Korea's first female president on Monday with her administration pledging to open a new era of people's happiness and hope for the future.

   Park, 61, assumes executive power just after midnight Sunday, with her inaugural speech the next day set to focus on creating more jobs, expanding welfare, and strengthening national defense.

   She is also expected to emphasize at her inauguration ceremony at 11 a.m. on the front lawn of the National Assembly the need to seek national unity to effectively deal with polarization of wealth and heal social discord, as well as push for an open and transparent government that listens to the wishes of the people.

   As part of the new administration's motto to strive for people's happiness, Park will elaborate on her innovation-driven economic growth plan that aims to stimulate the local job market, a welfare system tailored to individual needs, and a safe and secure society.

   She is expected to touch on education and cultural policies to improve people's quality of life and the need to lay a firm foundation for unification with North Korea.

   The preparatory committee in charge of the inauguration said a special performance by Korean rapper-singer Psy is planned along with a speech by the prime minister, marching of the colors and the ceremonial 21-gun-salute for the new chief executive. Park will visit the National Cemetery to pay her respects to those who sacrificed their lives defending the country before the inauguration.

   After the ceremony, Park will send off her predecessor, President Lee Myung-bak, and will take part in a car parade near parliament, before she heads for the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae. A welcoming gathering with people living near Cheong Wa Dae has been planned.

   The new chief executive, who is the daughter of late President Park Chung-hee, is then expected to take part in a formal banquet attended by diplomatic delegates and envoys along with around 1,000 representatives from various local groups and organizations.

   To wrap up her first day as South Korea's leader, she will host a state dinner for foreign dignitaries who are in the country for her inauguration.

   The organizers for the inauguration said that the bell at the Bosingak Pavilion in central Seoul will ring 33 times at the stroke of midnight Sunday to announce Park's taking office. Lee is expected to leave Cheong Wa Dae on Sunday to return to his retirement home in Nonhyeon-dong in the southern part of Seoul.

   Related to the swearing in ceremony, about 1,400 people took part in the final dress rehearsal under tight security Sunday, with the master of ceremonies and performers going though the entire routine as security guards and bomb sniffing dogs checked the venue for any signs of safety risks.

   "The rehearsal is an exact repeat of the inauguration that will last about two and a half hours," an official said.

   yonngong@yna.co.kr
(END)
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