President Park Geun-hye is considering whether to present a motion to parliament seeking confirmation of her latest choice for prime minister after she wraps up her ongoing trip to Central Asia, an official said Wednesday.
Park will decide whether to "approve the motion by fully taking into account various situations after returning home," presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook told reporters traveling with Park to the
Uzbek city of Samarkand.
Park will focus on important economic and diplomatic issues during her trip, Min said in comments posted on the website of the presidential office, as he explained the reason for delaying
signing off on the motion.
She is scheduled to return home late Saturday after a six-day tour of Central Asia.
The presidential office had originally planned to present a motion to parliament seeking Moon's confirmation on Tuesday but postponed it later in the day, citing Park's tight schedule in Uzbekistan.
The move is widely seen as Park's desire to wait and see amid mounting pressure from the ruling and opposition parties on Moon Chang-keuk to withdraw his name from the nomination.
Park has tapped the former chief editorial writer for a major newspaper to succeed the outgoing prime minister who offered to quit over the government's poor handling of a deadly ferry sinking
Later on Wednesday, Moon said that he will wait until the president comes back to the country, hinting that he has no intention of withdrawing his nomination.
"I will calmly prepare my work by sitting here until the president returns," the embattled nominee told reporters.
Park's cautious approach came as her key confidant, Rep. Suh Chung-won, who is seeking to head Park's conservative party, was more direct in his demand that Moon abandon his nomination, a day after Suh indirectly called for Moon to withdraw his nomination.
"It would be better for the nominee not to give a burden on everyone for the sake of the party, people and the government," Suh told reporters at a stadium near Seoul where he watched a World Cup match between South Korea and Russia through a giant screen.
Rep. Kim Han-gil, a co-leader of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, also called on the nominee to withdraw his nomination, claiming that Moon's nomination is an "insult" to South Koreans and their history.
Moon outraged many South Koreans with a speech at a local church in 2011 in which he described Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula and the subsequent division into capitalistic South and communist North as God's will.
His speech was revealed to the pubic soon after he was tapped to become the country's No. 2 political official.
His comments were apparently based on the Christian view of considering hardship as a blessing in disguise, though they are regarded by many as something that is unacceptable in a country where many people still harbor deep resentment against Japan over its harsh colonial rule.
In South Korea, the prime minister is the only Cabinet post that requires parliamentary confirmation.
Park suffered a setback last month when her first choice for prime minister, Ahn Dai-hee, withdrew his nomination amid criticism that he had made too much money as a lawyer last year by allegedly
benefiting from his status as a former Supreme Court justice.
Outgoing Prime Minister Chung Hong-won, who offered to quit following the ferry disaster, will remain in the job until his replacement is confirmed by the National Assembly.