Park pledges safer nation on Facebook

By Korea Herald
  • Published : May 8, 2014 - 21:17
  • Updated : May 8, 2014 - 21:17
President Park Geun-hye on Thursday posted a Parents’ Day message on her Facebook account, reaffirming her pledge to build a safer nation where parents would no longer worry about losing their children to tragic accidents like the sinking of the Sewol ferry.

“I thank all parents who have devoted their lives to raising children and helping them become people of talent,” she said. “I will put my best efforts to make a safer nation where parents will no longer suffer from pain of losing their precious children (like) in the Sewol ferry accident,” she said.

The president’s Facebook post was a part of her repeated apologies and pledges delivered amid growing criticism directed at Cheong Wa Dae. Park apologized during a Cabinet meeting on April 29 over the government’s mishandling of the disaster that left more than 300 missing or dead. The president also expressed regret that the government’s initial response had failed to save more lives and pledged to improve overall safety measures to prevent and better deal with disasters in the future.

But victims’ families protested against Park that her apology was reluctant and informal. The media criticized the South Korean leader not holding herself responsible. The main opposition party also accused her of lacking sincerity.

With the search operation of the missing Sewol passengers nearing an end, Cheong Wa Dae is reportedly planning on another public apology soon. Reports quoting presidential officials said that the president is highly likely to deliver her third apology in a separate setting next week, in an attempt to placate the angry public. She will suggest a package of master plans to help the nation move on from the tragedy and ensure the public safety, reports said. Officials, however, refused to say whether she would hold a press conference and offer the apology on live television or to release a separate statement.

The president is also expected to officially hold herself responsible for the disaster. Park’s previous apologies sparked public outrage because she attributed faults that led to the disaster to officials in charge of safety and maritime affairs and blasted some officials’ corruptive practices that overlooked businesses’ illegal acts.

Disputes have also escalated over Cheong Wa Dae’s defensiveness from attacks that accused the top office of denying its role as a “control tower” at a time of national emergency. A Cheong Wa Dae official was under public scrutiny after he expressed regrets for victims’ families protesting against Park.

Park is widely expected to pledge to put an end to corrupt ties between government officials and businesses and revamp the entire safety system to ensure public safety.

The president is also likely to carry out a massive reshuffle of her Cabinet after the local elections on June 4. Prime Minister Chung Hong-won resigned late last month, holding himself responsible for the government’s improper initial response of the ferry disaster. Park said she would accept his resignation after the disaster’s fallout was resolved.

By Cho Chung-un (