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S. Korea's embattled PM nominee backs out
Publication Date : 24-06-2014
South Korea's Prime Minister-designate Moon Chang-keuk, who has been under mounting pressure to withdraw his nomination, said on Tuesday morning that he will do so.
“I wanted to support President Park Geun-hye. But I thought it might be helpful for the president by withdrawing from the nomination at this point,” he said.
“Today, I voluntarily withdraw from the prime minister nomination,” he told reporters at a news conference held at the government complex building.
Moon said in his 14-minute speech that he accepted the nomination because he agreed with Park’s reform drive aimed at uniting the divided nation in the aftermath of the Sewol disaster. But the nominee said he will drop the nomination because keeping it will burden the president and her state management.
Shortly after the announcement, Cheong Wa Dae expressed regret over Moon’s resignation.
“President Park said she feels regretful for (Moon that he) couldn’t make it to the parliamentary confirmation hearing,” presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook said quoting Park as saying.
“The reason why we have confirmation hearings at the National Assembly is to verify (the nominees) and to represent the people’s decision.
“But from now on, I wish that the nominee could have a chance to give reasons for issues misunderstood so that their families don’t have to suffer from pain and live with dishonour for their entire lives,” the president was quoted by Min.
Moon’s withdrawal came two weeks after he was nominated by President Park. Moon, a retired journalist, has been under fire over controversial remarks he made on the 1910-45 Japanese rule of the Korean Peninsula and comfort women. In a speech delivered at a church in 2011, Moon said Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula and the division of the country was God’s will.
Despite mounting criticism both from the ruling and opposition parties, Moon had taken a firm stand. Some observers said that Moon was seen as attempting to recover his reputation by undergoing the parliamentary confirmation hearing.
Under mounting political pressure to abandon the former reporter, the president had said she would decide whether to submit the government’s motion to seek parliamentary approval for the PM nominee, after her trip to Central Asian nations. She returned on Saturday but remained mute.
Reports quoting multiple sources say that Cheong Wa Dae may have attempted to convince Moon to voluntarily withdraw his nomination, instead. Park was seen as delaying her decision because she did not want to be seen as admitting that it was her fault to appoint Moon.
The appointment fiasco is widely expected to deal another serious blow to Park despite her efforts to overturn angry public sentiment after the Sewol disaster. Moon was Park’s second nominee for the post. The former star prosecutor Ahn Dae-hee dropped his nomination last month after being struck by spiraling allegations that he received favors from his prosecutorial network.