Photo/Illutration South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol speaks during an inaugural dinner at a hotel in Seoul on May 10. (Pool Photo via AP)

Yoon Suk-yeol, the 20th president of South Korea, was sworn into office on May 10.

We hope the change of government will bring a fresh breeze of progress to his country as well as overseas.

On the same day, the executive office of the president moved out of the iconic Blue House, opening this traditional symbol of political power to the public.

Yoon reiterated the importance of freedom and democracy in his inaugural address.

As symbolized by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, many people around the world are being denied their freedoms, and democracy is in crisis.

The prosperity of present-day South Korea is owed to its freedom.

Next year will mark the 70th anniversary of the truce ending the Korean War, in which people of the same ethnic group attacked and killed one another.

After being reduced to rubble by the war, South Korea achieved phenomenal economic growth through its incessant efforts. Today, it is a major economic power that is ranked 10th in the world.

In popular culture, South Korea leads the world with its dramas, movies and K-pop as represented by the popular group BTS.

Yoon said in his address, "It is incumbent upon us to take on a greater role befitting our stature as a global leader. We must actively protect and promote universal values and international norms that are based on freedom and respect for human rights."

A broad vision for contribution to the international society is precisely what is expected from South Korea today.

Yoon's emphasis on freedom and democracy was also in indirect reference to North Korea, a nation that could not be farther from these values.

Having already test-launched ballistic missiles twice this month, Pyongyang could well be moving on to nuclear testing soon.

The Yoon administration is scheduled to bring anti-Pyongyang hard-liners on board, apparently poised for a major policy switch from the preceding administration of Moon Jae-in, who prioritized North-South reconciliation.

Granted, Seoul cannot go on compensating Pyongyang while the latter keeps refusing to refrain from military provocations. But on the other hand, just applying pressure will not improve the situation, either.

Yoon must bear in mind that dialogue must always be the basis of building a relationship of mutual trust.

Frequent communication is also indispensable to thawing Japan-South Korea relations that have remained strained over history issues. Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi attended Yoon's inauguration and met with him in Seoul.

During the five years under the Moon administration, the very foundations of the bilateral relationship became shaky because the partners no longer seemed to share the same universal values.

To clear this dark cloud hanging over Japan and its neighbor, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Yoon must try to arrange a summit as soon as possible.

A change of government has taken place in South Korea, but the National Assembly is still dominated by opposition forces, requiring the ruling party to heed opposition voices and seek harmony. Any negative chain reaction that smacks of retaliation must never be allowed to occur.

Caught in the middle of the U.S.-China friction and unable to break the domestic trend toward its ultra-low birthrate, South Korea faces many challenges.

We hope Yoon will prove to be a wise leader capable of resolving domestic problems while boldly tackling global issues and regional security problems.

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 11