South Korea's Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn on Wednesday called for national effort to heal division and promote unity amid North Korea's escalating missile and nuclear threats.
During a ceremony marking the 1960 pro-democracy uprising, Hwang also vowed to "strongly respond" to any North Korean provocation and ensure peace on the peninsula based on a robust defense posture.
Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn (2nd from L) and other dignitaries attend a ceremony marking the April 19, 1960, pro-democracy movement at a cemetery of fallen activists in northern Seoul on April 19, 2017. (Yonhap)
Concerns have persisted that the communist regime could stage yet another major provocation such as a nuclear test or an intercontinental ballistic missile launch ahead of the 85th anniversary of its military's foundation next Tuesday.
"For our society to move towards a more mature democracy, we should overcome extreme confrontations and binary thinking, and move towards a more harmonious society in which we embrace our differences," Hwang said.
"We need to seek national integration with the government's active efforts and cooperation among (citizens) from various walks of life," he added.
Hwang also voiced hopes that the May 9 presidential election will offer a new opportunity to heal social division and conflicts, which have deepened in the wake of a massive corruption scandal involving ousted President Park Geun-hye.
The acting president, in addition, called the 1960 civil uprising a starting point for a free democracy to take root in South Korea, stressing the need to uphold its spirits to overcome a series of national challenges.
On April 19, 1960, the pro-democracy movement broke out to protest vote rigging in the presidential elections of then President Syngman Rhee, which later led to the downfall of his government. Through a set of constitutional revisions aimed at prolonging his rule, he led the country for 12 years from 1948. (Yonhap)