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President urges focus on economy, peace

Park to hold New Year press conference Monday

Democratic Party chairman Kim Han-gil attends a meeting between President Park Geun-hye and political and business leaders at Cheong Wa Dae on Friday. (Yonhap News)
Democratic Party chairman Kim Han-gil attends a meeting between President Park Geun-hye and political and business leaders at Cheong Wa Dae on Friday. (Yonhap News)

President Park Geun-hye on Friday urged the country’s political, economic and government leaders to do their utmost to help revitalize the still sluggish economy, enhance people’s livelihoods and secure peninsular peace.

In a meeting with them to exchange New Year’s greetings, Park called on economy chiefs to help create jobs through “sweeping” innovation and investment, and strengthen the country’s competitiveness to help create per-capita national income of $40,000.

“Social stability and development can be brought about when all core members of state governance including the legislature, judiciary, administration, provincial governments and economic circles do their best in each of their positions,” she said during the meeting at Cheong Wa Dae.

The gathering was attended by some 200 people including Rep. Hwang Woo-yea, chairman of the ruling Saenuri Party, and Rep. Kim Han-gil of the main opposition Democratic Party.

It was the first time Park and the leaders of the ruling and opposition parties had met since their Sept. 16 talks on political issues, including the state agencies’ alleged election interference.

The president’s stepped-up push to revitalize the economy comes as her approval ratings have recently declined.

Online polling agency Realmeter said Monday that public support for Park’s management of state affairs was tallied at 48.5 percent, a decrease of 3.8 percentage points from the previous week. The figure was the lowest since last April.

The pollster said that her ratings dipped after her government mobilized police officers to handle the recent railway workers’ strike, which caused disruption in the passenger and cargo transport. Workers agreed to return to work Monday after a record 22-day walkout.

During Friday’s meeting with the president, the DP leader suggested forming a committee for “grand social compromise” to resolve unceasing conflicts stemming from the country’s deepening social, economic polarizations.

Kim also called for a substantial shift in the government’s lackluster policy toward North Korea.

“Should inter-Korean tensions be resolved, Japan would lose its rationale for heavier armament. Then stability in Northeast Asia would ensue,” Kim said.

“I expect the government to make a profound shift in its policy toward the North to normalize the inter-Korean ties. For peninsular peace, the Democratic Party would be willing to play any role given to us.”

Kim also called on Park to enhance communication with opposition parties. His party has long berated Park for her aloofness and lack of efforts to seek understanding and coordination from it over policy decisions.

Park plans to hold a press conference Monday for the first time since her inauguration last February, to explain her economic policy initiatives and other plans for the year.

Park is expected use the televised press event to improve her image, which has deteriorated amid criticism of her aloofness and what observers call “unilateral” decision-making.

Park is likely to be asked if she has any plans for a government reshuffle as speculation of persists. Her chief of staff Kim Ki-choon denied the speculation Thursday, citing the need for the government to focus on reinvigorating the economy.

By Song Sang-ho (
catch table
Korea Herald daum