South Korea's president-elect Kim Dae Jung has pledged to revive the ailing economy and pay back a record loan the country negotiated earlier this month with the International Monetary Fund.
Kim, the first opposition figure to win the job since South Korea's independence in 1948, said on Friday that the road ahead would be tough.
He blamed the crisis on a decades-old system in which the previous administrations funded and protected business in exchange for bribes - a practice he promised to end.
South Korean president-elect Kim Dae Jung joined his party members on the steps of the National Assembly Building in Seoul on Friday.
Voters and markets say they are still unsure the 73-year-old former dissident is up to the task of governing South Korea.
The Dow Jones Industrial average fell nearly 147 points on what analysts said was fear that pro-labour Kim would resist fully implementing reforms called for in the I-M-F's bailout plan.
The index later recouped about a quarter of its losses.
The South Korean won weakened against the dollar and South Korean stocks moved up and down as news of the election result mixed with reports of the latest corporate bankruptcy in a year-long string of collapses.
Kim attempted to ease investor fears repeatedly in his speech.
He said he would cooperate fully with the I-M-F, and stick to the market economy system.
But, as in the election campaign, he offered no specific plans for the economy.
"I will run the government in a transparent manner. I will get rid of corruption and sever ties between business and government. I reaffirm that I will be a sympathetic leader and continue through dialogue."
SUPER CAPTION: Kim Dae Jung, President-elect of South Korea
Kim won't take office until late February, raising fears the lame-duck administration of President Kim Young-sam will let the economy stumble along for the next two months.
The president-elect said he would name a transition team no later than Monday.
Analysts say they will watch to see what policies the president-elect announces in the coming weeks, as well as who he chooses to include in his cabinet.
South Koreans seemed to be aware of the tough task ahead of their new leader.
"If we want to pay back the I-M-F loan, our president Kim Dae Jung will have to work hard. That's all I want."
SUPER CAPTION: Voxpop
"I wish that we could all live well economically, and I wish that the leader will be wise."
SUPER CAPTION: Voxpop
This South Korean politics professor says Kim faces two big problems - regional conflict and an ailing economy.
"There are two questions that we Koreans look forward to, with the newly elected president. Kim Dae Jung. First one is the overcoming of the regional conflict between Kyongsang province and Jola province, which has been an obstacle for 30 years in Korean politics. And the second one is, I guess, the economic recovery. As you know, we are now in danger of economic situation under the control of the I-M-F."
SUPER CAPTION: Professor Kong Sung Jin, Department of Politics, Hanyang University
Some of Kim's options will be limited by restrictions imposed on South Korea when the International Monetary Fund came to its rescue earlier this month with the U-S 57 (b) billion dollar bailout.
The I-M-F demanded that South Korea restrain its economic growth, raise taxes and interest rates and slow the expansion of its powerful conglomerates.
Those dictates could make Kim an unpopular man if, as most analysts predict, they result in the loss of up to 1 (m) million jobs next year.
He promised voters two weeks ago that he would force the I-M-F to renegotiate the most punitive terms if he was elected.
Investors fled the market, South Korea's currency and stocks nosedived and Kim was forced to make a U-turn and pledge he'd follow I-M-F conditions.
The National Assembly is scheduled to meet on Monday to try again to pass economic reform bills they failed to enact last month just days before seeking the loan.
Kim also proposed direct talks between South Korea and its communist rival North Korea.
He said he supports talks already started that include the United States and China, but believes the two rivals on the Korean peninsula also should open their own discussions.
Jailed and persecuted himself by former military rulers, Kim promised during the campaign to free prisoners of conscience in South Korea and reform a security law that has been used to jail dissidents.
He didn't refer to any new initiative on that in his speech on Friday.
The government denies it is holding any political prisoners, but human rights group estimate several hundred are currently imprisoned.