Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon tried Friday to calm worries over a government plan to give "citizen jurors" the final say over the fate of two nuclear reactors, whose construction has recently been suspended by the new liberal administration.
During a meeting with reporters marking his 100 days in office, Lee said that the jurors -- albeit not experts -- will make their decision based on "sound common sense" after sufficiently listening to both supporters and opponents.
Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon speaks during a meeting with reporters in Seoul on June 30, 2017. (Yonhap)
The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on Tuesday ordered a halt to the construction of the reactors in Ulsan, 414 kilometers southeast of Seoul, and have citizen jurors determine whether to go ahead with the construction after three months of public deliberation.
The move is in line with President Moon Jae-in's pursuit of safe, clean and renewable energy sources but has triggered concerns about a possible surge in electricity bills and an energy shortage.
"You don't need to worry that the citizen jurors might be unprofessional," Lee said. "They will deliver their judgment based on sound common sense."
Touching on the envisioned panel to solicit and gauge public opinion on the issue, Lee stressed that its focus will be on maintaining "fairness and objectivity" in the process of reaching a final decision on the reactors.
As for the concerns about a possible rise in electricity prices and the loss of jobs involved in the reactor construction, he said these issues will also be discussed at the panel.
Lee also dismissed the idea of extending the three-month deliberation period, saying it would result in a "tremendous cost," apparently alluding to social and political division over the energy policy issue. (Yonhap)