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South Korean leader struggles to shed aloof image
Publication Date : 07-01-2014
South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Monday struggled to ease growing criticism over her lack of communication with the public, which observers said contributed to recent social and political problems including the recent railway workers’ strike.
Park only reiterated her stance that genuine communication can take place based on the premise that each side upholds the shared values and rules of the community - an allusion to what her government calls an “illegal” walkout by railway service workers.
“We need to think about the meaning of genuine communication,” she said.
“It is not genuine communication if (I) just meet them face to face, make compromises in a sloppy manner, and accept arguments, even though they run counter to national interests.”
As Park refused to hold direct talks with strikers and opposition lawmakers, her political foes have stepped up their offensive against the president, branding her as an “uncommunicative” leader.
In a veiled criticism of Park’s insufficient communication, Kim Han-gil, the leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, proposed forging a committee for “social grand compromise” during a New Year’s gathering at Cheong Wa Dae last week.
Her supporters had said that she did not refuse to talk, but she strictly maintained her “principle” of pursuing national interests first during social or political conflicts. Opposition lawmakers argued that she should talk first to narrow differences rather than address them.
“Our society has just accepted one’s demands to a certain extent if he or she clings to them. It is wrong to say it is because of a lack of communication when we respond to such abnormal practices with a principled approach,” she said.
“The premise for genuine communication is that we forge a society in which the law is fairly applied and enforced to anyone regardless of whether their social status is high or low.”
She introduced a series of her efforts to improve communication with people. They include Cheong Wa Dae’s acceptance of public petitions, her meetings with farmers, entrepreneurs from small and medium-sized firms and others from various industries.
Park also pledged to make more efforts to listen to people’s voices.
The Democratic Party questioned Park’s willingness to enhance communication with the public, arguing that she used the press conference to only promote her policies for the New Year.
“Overall, the press conference room became a venue for policy promotion. I cannot help but doubt the president’s desire for genuine communication with the people,” said DP spokesperson Kim Kwan-yong.