South Korean president-elect Park Geun-Hye vowed to pursue a pragmatic policy on North Korea that would guarantee the South's security while seeking to build trust with Pyongyang.
In her first policy address since her historic victory on Wednesday that saw her elected the country's first woman president, Park said the North's recent rocket launch was a reminder of the threat posed by the communist neighbour.
During her campaign, Park had distanced herself from the hardline policy of outgoing President Lee Myung-Bak who suspended humanitarian aid to the North.
Park had promised a dual policy of greater engagement and "robust deterrence", and even held out the prospect of a summit with the North's young leader Kim Jong-Un, who came to power a year ago.
Analysts say she will be restricted by hawks in her ruling conservative New Frontier Party, as well as an international community intent on punishing the North for what it saw as a disguised ballistic missile test.
"The launch of North Korea's long-range missile symbolically showed how grave the security situation facing us is," Park said.
"I will keep the promise I made to you to open a new era on the Korean peninsula, based on strong security and trust-based diplomacy," she added.
Park spoke after visiting the grave of her father, the former military ruler Park Chung-Hee, whose divisive legacy had shadowed her entire election campaign.