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Elected president to take office immediately

Unlike past presidents, who have had a 60-day transition period to assemble their administrations, South Korea’s next president is to take office immediately, without the conventional inauguration ceremony.

The unique situation is created by the current vacancy in the Blue House after the ouster of former President Park Geun-hye upon impeachment.

“The elected (candidate) is to acquire the position of president as soon as the NEC confirms their victory on Wednesday morning,” the National Election Commission said in a statement Tuesday.

Police officers stand guard at the main gate of the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on May 9, 2017, the day to pick the new occupant of the office to succeed ousted President Park Geun-hye. (Yonhap)
Police officers stand guard at the main gate of the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on May 9, 2017, the day to pick the new occupant of the office to succeed ousted President Park Geun-hye. (Yonhap)

This immediate effect is based on the Public Official Election Act, which states that in elections taking place in case of a presidential vacancy, the person elected is to fill the post without delay.

The certificate of election will thus state the winner as “president” instead of “president-elect,” according to the watchdog.

For this reason, the NEC chairman is considering the option of delivering the certificate of election directly to the new president, as it is against protocol to summon a sitting president to the NEC headquarters.

In 2012, a chief official from Park’s election camp visited the NEC office to pick up the document on behalf of president-elect Park.

The presidential inaugural ceremony will also be downsized, considering the pressing timeline.

The Ministry of Interior is to contact the new president’s election camp to determine the details of the ceremony, which is to be held Wednesday.

The most likely scenario is for the incoming president to take the oath at the National Assembly’s central hall, as was suggested by some of the election front-runners.

“The location would underline the (new president’s) vow to work in close partnership with the legislature,” said officials of Moon Jae-in’s camp Tuesday.

Runner-up figures Hong Joon-pyo and Ahn Cheol-soo similarly pledged to undergo a simple oath and immediately move into the presidential office to address urgent pending issues.

Since 1987, presidential inauguration ceremonies have taken place on the lawn of the National Assembly in February.

Before the ceremony, it has been customary for new presidents to pay their respects at the Seoul National Cemetery.

By Kim Da-sol (ddd@heraldcorp.com)

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