The prime architect of President Park Geun-hye’s so-called “economic democratization” policy hinted on Wednesday he would part ways with the ruling party amid accusations that Park was retracting a key campaign promise.
Kim Jong-in, one of the ruling Saenuri Party’s top economic policy advisers to Park during her 2012 presidential campaign, said on a TV show that he was considering ending his affiliation with the Saenuri Party.
“I had never been a Saenuri member but they (Saenuri Party officials) told me that I had to enter the party in order to serve in a party position,” said Kim.
Although Kim has not openly expressed the specific reasons behind his anticipated move, there is speculation that Kim had been disgruntled with President Park’s relative lag in implementing her economic democratization pledge.
“That the main figure behind President Park’s economic democratization policy is determined to withdraw his party membership from the Saenuri Party, shows that the current administration has no intent to really implement that pledge” said Huh Young-il, spokesperson for the main opposition Democratic Party.
His remark came at a sensitive time. Independent lawmaker Ahn Cheol-soo is preparing to launch his own political party and is trying to attract prominent figures into the ranks.
Both had maintained a close relationship before Kim joined Park’s campaign.
President Park had promised to level the playing field for the economically disadvantaged ― including small and medium-sized enterprises, the unemployed, and the disabled ― before her rise to the presidency, as voices to lessen the income gap between the rich and poor gained momentum. To help design her policies, Park had hired Kim to lead a key in-house economic policy advisory committee focused on economic democratization.
But despite President Park’s much-touted vows, legislation to flatten the economic environment has been languid. Members of both the Saenuri Party and the DP for instance have motioned for the national legislature to review and vote on amendments to antitrust and fair trade laws as a part of economic democratization without any bill having been thoroughly examined.
Kim’s relationship with Park has been a complicated one, with the two senior officials having disagreed on the specifics of how to implement economic democratization even before the first Korean female president rose to office in February.
Their differences focused on regulating chaebol’s dominance in the market and their opaque accounting and ownership structures.
President Park, meanwhile, has been under fire for retreating on many of her pre-election promises besides economic democratization. The DP has been especially critical of Park’s scrapping of parts of the basic pension plan for senior citizens due to budgetary limitations while Park’s pledges on free education for high school students and cutting tuition in half for university students are facing major obstacles.
By Jeong Hunny (firstname.lastname@example.org)