President Yoon Seok-yeol attends the 2023 New Year's meeting
President Yoon Seok-yeol and First Lady Kim Kun-hee attended the "2023 New Year's Greetings" held at the Blue House guesthouse on the morning of Monday, January 2, exchanged New Year's greetings with key figures in the country, and strengthened their resolve to manage state affairs in the New Year.
Holding under the theme of 'Korea United with Freedom and Fairness', about 200 people attended on the day including National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo, Prime Minister Han Deok-soo, Supreme Court Chief Kim Myung-soo, Constitutional Court President Yoo Nam-seok, National Election Commission Chairman Roh Tae-ak, People's Power Floor Representative Joo Ho-young, and Justice Party Lee Jung-mi.
Yoon said, "We will speed up normalization by quickly correcting the evils that hinder the growth and development of our economy while taking the livelihood of the public as our top priority."
After emphasizing that there is no compromise with vested interests in his New Year's address the previous day, he appealed for participation in 'structural reform' through the destruction of vested interests.
He said, "If we are easily defeated by the resistance of the vested interests, our sustainable prosperity will be difficult. We have witnessed many times in world history that crises are opportunities to lead prosperity and leap forward through the will to take on challenges and innovative capabilities."
He said "The three major reforms of labor, education, and pension are difficult, but it is the path we must take, and the people have ordered us to do so."
He emphasized the market-oriented policy led by the private sector and the role of the government to support it.
He said, "The weakening of the WTO system, the intensifying competition for technological supremacy, and geopolitical conflicts have intensified global blocs, making the role of the government more important than ever."
He also said, “We will support foreign affairs, trade, and science and technology while maintaining a market-oriented stance led by the private sector. Solidarity with the international community based on universal values is not only our constitutional value, but also protects our country's national interests and gives us more opportunities economically."
Lastly, he said, "There will be many crises and challenges in the new year, but we will further solidify the foundation of freedom and solidarity, human rights and the rule of law that made the Republic of Korea today and led to its prosperity."
President Yoon visits Seoul National Cemetery and condolences to former Pope Benedict XVI
President Yoon Seok-yeol visited Seoul National Cemetery on the morning of the first day of the New Year.
About 40 people attended the visit, including Prime Minister Han Deok-soo, ministers, Lee Kwan-seop, and chief of state affairs planning.
President Yoon wrote in the guestbook, "I will definitely create a Republic of Korea that leaps forward together with its great people."
On the morning of January 2, Yoon delivered condolences to Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican Embassy in Seoul, Jongno-gu, Seoul, said Vice Spokesman Lee Jae-myung in a written briefing.
After commemorating Pope Emeritus Benedict, Yoon told Archbishop Alfred Shuireb, the Vatican Ambassador to Korea, "Benedict XVI showed special affection and concern for the future of Korea, and prayed sincerely for peace on the Korean Peninsula. Now, rest eternally in the arms of Jesus Christ."
Ambassador Shuirev described President Yoon's visit as a "great gift" and replied, "I will pray for peace on the Korean Peninsula as the deceased wished during his lifetime."
In the condolence book, President Yoon wrote, "Pope Benedict XVI, who devoted himself to the freedom and peace of mankind with truth and love, will be remembered forever by us."
Previously, Yoon sent a message of condolence to Pope Francis the day before, praying for the repose and eternal rest of honorary Pope Benedict, and conveying his condolences on behalf of the Korean government and people.
The leaders of the 7 religious orders also expressed their condolences to the death of former Pope Benedict XVI.
In a eulogy, the Korean Conference of Religions for Peace, an association of seven religious denominations, said, "The Korean religious world cannot hide its regret and sorrow for the passing of former Pope Benedict XVI, who devoted his whole life to the Catholic Church and the Gospel."
The Conference said of Benedict XVI, "He took the lead in preserving Catholic tradition and doctrine more than anyone else during his presidency. He was called the best theologian of the 21st century and the best intellectual in Europe, and he resigned his position as pope and obeyed the successor pope. He showed the beautiful tradition of Catholicism in practice by promising to do it and taking a low position.”
The Conference said, "The trajectory of the life of the Pope, who personally practiced Catholic tradition and love throughout his life, will be remembered forever in our hearts. The Korean religious community hopes for the rest of Pope Benedict XVI, who devoted himself to the gospel, and prays that peace and rest be with him forever, and give deepest condolences to the grieving Catholics around the world."
The memorial mass was held at 4:00 p.m. on the 7th at the Myeongdong Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Seoul with a joint celebration by the bishops. Official incense burners were set up at the Pope's Embassy in Korea and at the Myeongdong Cathedral.
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