The Korea Herald


Park begins moves for presidential bid


Published : Sept. 8, 2011 - 19:26

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Park Geun-hye, former chairwoman of the Grand National Party, is decking out for her second presidential bid after she was beaten in opinion polls by a professor who merely hinted at running for Seoul mayor.

People close to Park said the four-term lawmaker was scheduled to open an office outside the National Assembly early next month for an additional team of secretaries to speed up preparations for her presidential bid next year.

The moves by Park, who leads a faction that accounts for about a third of GNP legislators and has kept ahead of other aspirants within the party, are expected to prompt others to take public action for the same purpose.

Park has so far kept a low profile, refusing to comment on pending political issues, earning a controversial reputation for so-called “one-word politics.”

The daughter of former President Park Chung-hee recently began making visits to welfare facilities in Seoul and Incheon in addition to Cheongdo, Gyeongju and Daegu in Yeongnam, her stronghold in the nation’s southeastern region. Despite her increased public appearances, she has managed to say little, cultivating her typically abstruse aura.

But she did apologize Thursday for snapping at a reporter during her visit to an employment center in Incheon a day earlier.

Park asked a reporter if he was sick when he repeatedly asked her view of the poll results in which Ahn Cheol-soo beat her by about 2 percentage points.

“I had told (the reporters) that I wished to discuss welfare rather than politics because I was there out of welfare concerns, but one of them repeated the same question,” Park told reporters before getting into her car after a parliamentary session Thursday.

“It was a joke but I believe the expression was inappropriate.”

Regarding her future plans, she said she plans to visit different regions as frequently as possible as the trips are helpful for her policy involvement, which she said will not be limited to welfare, finance or education.

Park has recently expanded her scope of policy involvement to foreign affairs and national security.

Back in 2006, Park opened an office for additional staff in September while the National Assembly was in regular session. Her top aides such as Rep. Yoo Jeong-bok and Lee Jeong-hyun handled media affairs in that office.

There had been much criticism within the GNP that she was only concerned about her presidential bid, but with the Ahn Cheol-soo factor having dealt a blow to the party, it is no longer perceived as too early to begin taking steps for the presidential race, one of her associates said.

By Kim So-hyun (