Health Minister Chin Young remained ambiguous on Wednesday over rumors that he would step down from the post to assume responsibility for the Park Geun-hye government’s failure to keep its original plans on bigger welfare benefits.
Chin, who came back from a five-day business trip to Saudi Arabia Wednesday morning, said he had thought about leaving office but declined to confirm whether he would do so.
“Two weeks ago, I thought that I would no longer fulfill the duty of a health minister who satisfies the people’s demand. It is true that I thought about resigning from the post for the people and for the president who trusted me,” he told reporters at Incheon International Airport.
Reports had spread since Sunday that the minister may tender his resignation to the president this week, at a critical time as the government announces a scaled down basic pension plan. Some speculated that Chin would leave the office to run for Seoul mayor next year.
The politician-turned-minister, however, denied the reports.
“It seems to be a misconception that (I will resign) to take responsibility over the government introducing scaled down (welfare) pledges,” the minister said.
“The issue related to the (basic pension) pledge is something not for a minister to talk about. I haven’t spoken a word about it,” he added.
The three-term lawmaker has been assisting Park since her presidential campaign and was the deputy chief of the transition committee.
Though he didn’t clarify his position, it is widely thought that he has already decided.
Chin said he felt “helpless” and like he was “reaching the limit” as minister to lead the government’s ambitious drive to expand welfare. If Chin resigns from the ministerial post, President Park is likely to carry out her first reshuffle.
So far, potentially two minister-level seats will be left vacant, following the resignation of former Board of Audit and Inspection chief Yang Kun last month and the offer to resign submitted by Prosecutor General Chae Dong-wook earlier this month. Chae’s resignation has yet to be accepted.
By Cho Chung-un (firstname.lastname@example.org