The National Assembly on Wednesday held parliamentary confirmation hearings for four of President Park Geun-hye’s minister nominees, whose views and policy pledges provided further insight into the governing philosophy of the new leader.
Ryoo Kihl-jae, who was tapped to head the Ministry of Unification, reiterated Park’s campaign pledge to build trust with North Korea.
“The goal (of North Korea policy) is to build trust and ensure sustainable peace,” said Ryoo, 54, who was previously a professor at the University of North Korean Studies.
Ryoo argued that South Korea should work toward resuming the six party talks involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, and other powers in the region, to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis.
While reiterating Park’s policy of zero-tolerance for the North’s nuclear weapons, Ryoo also said that there should be a two-track policy that combines tough sanctions and engagement built on trust.
Chin Young, who was nominated to head the Ministry of Health and Welfare, pledged to raise the price of cigarettes by approximately 2,000 won.
“In order to lower the smoking rate, there needs to be more enforcement of warning pictures and also an increase in the price of cigarettes,” said Chin.
The nominee came under fire from opposition lawmakers for failing to turn in the requested reports on carrying out Park’s campaign pledge for the government to cover the expenses of treating four major diseases and the expansion of the monthly pension for seniors.
Park’s nominee to head the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Lee Dong-pil, voiced caution on the forging of a free trade agreement with China, citing its proximity to South Korea and the similar list of foodstuff produced.
The former director of Korea Rural Economic Institute also pledged to expand government subsidy to stabilize farmers’ income.
Seo Seung-hwan, who has been tapped to head the Ministry of Land and Transport, reiterated Park’s campaign pledge to expand subsidized apartments and to revive the real estate market by exterminating the capital gains tax for those who hold multiple properties.
“The real estate trade volume is at its lowest since 2006,” said Seo. “This is not normal.” But Seo added that the acquisition tax should be extended for another year.
By Samuel Songhoon Lee (email@example.com)