Park suffers further setback

By Korea Herald

Science minister-nominee resigns; president directly appeals to public; political feud deepens

  • Published : Mar 4, 2013 - 20:16
  • Updated : Mar 4, 2013 - 20:16
President Park Geun-hye addresses the nation regarding the government reorganization plan at Cheong Wa Dae on Monday. (Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald)
President Park Geun-hye’s science minister-designate Kim Jeong-hoon withdrew his name from the nomination Monday, further clogging the drawn-out Cabinet formation

His departure came just before Park delivered her first public statement as president urging the opposition to end the partisan standoff and pass her government reorganization plan.

Park expressed deep regret over Kim’s withdrawal for which she blamed the opposition’s refusal to approve the realignment of government ministries. 
Kim Jeong-hoon announces his resignation as the nominee to head the Ministry of Future Planning and Science at the National Assembly on Monday. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)

“It is my conviction, the state’s philosophy and the matter of the country’s future that we must prepare a growth engine through information and communication technology based on the convergence of science technology and broadcasting and communication,” Park said at a press conference in Cheong Wa Dae.

As her senior secretaries looked on, Park said in a resolute voice, “It is with desperation when I say that this is something that I, as the president of the Republic of Korea, cannot step back on.”

Park’s address was seen to aim at further pressing the main opposition Democratic United Party to endorse her government reorganization plan and to shift the blame over for the extended state administration vacuum.

The DUP, in response, attacked the president, blaming Park for further dimming the prospects for a resolution of the government plan.
Democratic United Party emergency committee leader Moon Hee-sang (left) and floor leader Park Ki-choon
smile during a meeting at the National Assembly on Monday. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)

Park’s Cabinet formation has been delayed over the rival parties’ deadlocked negotiation over the role of the Future Planning and Science Ministry, namely over the rights and control over broadcasting-related issues including cable television system operators.

The negotiation between the parties’ leaderships failed to seal the differences despite marathon talks over the weekend. The DUP had also turned down Park’s proposal Saturday to meet three-way for a breakthrough.

The state administration is to suffer an unprecedented void if the parties fail to reach a compromise within the extraordinary parliamentary session that closes on Tuesday.

Park’s conference came shortly after Kim’s own press briefing at the National Assembly declaring his withdrawal.

“I now wish to renounce my earlier resolve to sacrifice for my motherland,” Kim said, citing how he felt deeply disconcerted by the prolonged standoff between the rival political parties and the opposition’s refusal of the president’s proposal to meet up.

Kim, president of Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs and Corporate Strategy and an iconic success story for Korean-Americans, was tapped by Park to head the Ministry of Future Planning and Science that would be in charge of Park’s vision for creating innovation-based growth engines through convergence.

The opposition has also been taking issue with the nomination of Kim, currently an American citizen. Kim was reportedly undergoing the process to retrieve his Korean nationality.

Park, speaking in an unusually emotional and determined voice and gesturing with a fist at times, pointed the finger at the opposition for causing her government a setback.

“The serious snag in the state administration due to the delayed passage of the government reorganization plan a week into the new government’s launch is unprecedented in Korean Constitutional history,” Park said.

She rebuked the opposition’s claim that her plan to transfer the broadcasting-related issues from the Korea Communications Commission to the Science Ministry was an attempt to widen control over the media.

“I have no intention to do so, not to mention how it is legally impossible. I promise this in front of the people,” Park said.

Park reiterated her proposal to discuss the matter.

The DUP, in response, lambasted Park’s statement as “an incredibly dangerous political action that used to be taken up by dictators during the authoritarian rule.”

“No matter how imminent or how it is the president’s state philosophy, the principle defined by the law states that a government reorganization plan needs parliamentary discussion and public approval. It is not solved through a president’s pressing statement or a unilateral pressure against the opposition,” DUP’s interim leader Moon Hee-sang said at a press briefing.

“This not only violates the democratic principle of the separation of legal, administrative, and judicial powers, but also goes against the principle of win-win politics of dialogue and compromise,” he said, adding that the DUP was always open to negotiation but not to “superficial gathering.”

By Lee Joo-hee (