President-elect Park Geun-hye on Wednesday met Saenuri Party members amid growing grievances in the ruling party ranks over what some call a secretive and dogmatic style that led to her first appointment ending in fiasco.
She urged party members to cooperate for a smooth launch of her government, expressing concern about parliament’s harsh scrutiny of her would-be Cabinet members.
Senior officials from the governing party and members of the presidential committee participated in the meeting to present a united front ahead of Park’s swearing in on Feb. 25.
The president-elect used the meeting, held in the memorial hall of a Korean independence activist, to shape the political rhetoric ahead of the upcoming parliamentary hearings for Cabinet members.
|President-elect Park Geun-hye bows to Saenuri Party lawmakers and officials in a meeting on Wednesday.|
(Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)
“Parliamentary hearings should not overtly hurt the nominee’s character and should rather be an opportunity to test (the nominee’s) professional abilities and dedication,” said Park, in an attempt to subdue the political damage wrought last week by the resignation of her nominee for prime minister, Kim Yong-joon. Kim withdrew after being accused of engaging in land speculation and wielding influence on behalf of his two sons, who were both declared exempt from mandatory military service.
“When I manage state affairs, I will seek out the party and the National Assembly as important pillars of governance,” said Park. “I will seek your counsel and cooperate closely.”
The meeting was the latest in a series of attempts by the President-elect to reach out to her party to gather momentum ahead of the parliamentary hearings, which will likely shape the public’s opinion of the first few years of Park’s administration. Last week, she met with elected officials from Gangwon Province at a safe house in Seoul.
“This will be the last time we will see Park Geun-hye as president-elect,” said Saenuri Party chairman Hwang Woo-yea to the gathered members of his party. “The next time we see her, she will be in Cheong Wa Dae.”
Short video clips played that recounted the conservative leader’s journey to becoming the nation’s first female president, followed by presentations from members of the transition committee regarding the agenda of the next administration.
Yoo Min-bong, the transition team’s state affairs subcommittee chief, presented PowerPoint clips highlighting South Korea’s rising national status ― through the number of gold medals won at the London Olympics last year and trade figures giving the nation recognition as a top exporter ― but added that the picture of the people’s livelihood was still grim.
“With the highest suicide rate among OECD members and the global ranking of people’s happiness at 97, each individual citizen is not too satisfied or happy,” said Yoo in a speech. “So what, if Samsung is the No. 1 company in the world? What does that have to do with me? That is the question people are asking these days.”
Yoo then reiterated Park’s campaign slogan ― “A Country Where my Dreams can Come True” ― and said that people’s happiness can be realized through job creation.
“Happiness will be work, and work will be happiness,” said Yoo.
By Samuel Songhoon Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org