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[Newsmaker] Park's metaphors gild the lily

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Published : 2014-03-13 21:01
Updated : 2014-03-14 21:34

President Park Geun-hye’s use of uncharacteristically colorful expressions as she pushes for regulatory reform is generating ripples across the nation.

Politicians on both sides are closely following her words, with some taking to mimicking her to further their own agendas, while her words have decorated newspaper headlines on a daily basis.

Since the beginning of February, Park has used increasingly strong expressions to stress the need to ease regulations.
President Park Geun-hye. (Yonhap)

On Feb. 5, she called for the government to engage regulatory reform with the “spirit of the Jindo dog,” saying that the breed does not let up once it bites down until flesh is torn away. The Jindo is a breed indigenous to Korea that is reputed to have a determined disposition.

Since then, Park’s words have gradually become more colorful.

Park on Monday called for various regulations to be eased quickly, saying that unnecessary regulations were like a “tumor that needs to be removed” and an “enemy that must be smashed.”

The emphasis Park places on deregulation is thought to be linked to the three-year economic innovation plan she unveiled during her New Year press conference. Key targets of the plan include reforming state-run companies, raising employment rate to 70 percent and improving the country’s potential economic growth rate to 4 percent, all of which will require varying degrees of regulatory reform.

One high-level presidential staff member interprets the change in Park’s speech as an expression of her passion and frustration over the slow progress of her policies.

Her words appear to have struck a chord with the conservative news outlets, with one daily quoting an unnamed Cheong Wa Dae official as saying that Park’s expressions were reminiscent of the words of “a warrior going to war.”

Whatever her reasons may be, the opposition parties have taken to using Park’s own words to attack the administration.

On Wednesday, main opposition Democratic Party leader Rep. Kim Han-gil referred to the National Intelligence Service as a “tumor in the nation” and an evil that “must be smashed” borrowing Park’s words.

The president’s words have also been used to attack her policies.

“Did the president discard economic democratization, which is a regulatory tool against unfair business practices, because it is also a tumor and enemy?” DP supreme council member Rep. Woo Won-shik said Wednesday.

The minor left-wing Unified Progressive Party went a step further to describe Park’s words as “ill-though-out rantings.”

The UPP also honed in on the emphasis Park is placing on regulatory reform through increasingly stronger expressions, saying that regulatory reform was the current administration’s four-river restoration project.

The four-river restoration project was the Lee Myung-bak administration’s core project, which has since come under fire from both conservatives and progressives.

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)

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