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Press conference hoped to address lack of communications

Press conference hoped to address lack of communications

Posted January. 04, 2014 00:35,   


According to a New Year’s survey conducted by The Dong-A Ilbo, the most regrettable thing that respondents singled out about President Park Geun-hye’s state administration over the past year was “lack of communications with the public” (21.6 percent). Amid this situation, Park’s “announcement of New Year’s plan and press conference” set on Monday is widely expected to help ease the public’s aspiration for communications.

If President Park would not give press conferences often, her aides should frequently step forward to talk, but they have only prepared short messages of several lines and read them instantly, as if they are afraid of making verbal mistakes. In late March last year, when a string of minister nominees and vice ministers were disqualified and withdrew candidacies, then Presidential Chief of Staff Huh Tae-yeol had spokesperson Kim Haeng to read “17-second statement of apology” on his behalf, to generate negative publicity. On Thursday, Presidential Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon called a press conference, and read for 45 seconds just three sentences indicating that “No cabinet reshuffle will be made in the near future,” and left the podium without taking any questions. Critics questioned if it was that short, “He should have posted the statement on social networking services such as Twitter. Why did he bother to call busy reporters?”

President Park has repeatedly said, “Policy that people are not aware of is no different from non-existence of the policy,” stressing, “The government should establish proper logic together with experts and actively inform the public of such policy.” The president is the very person who can do that most accurately and responsibly. Unlike unilateral public statements or remarks that the president makes when presiding over meetings, a press conference is an effective means through which reporters can ask questions on behalf of the public, and by which the chief executive can answer in person to communicate with the people. U.S. presidents hold press conferences twice on average per month. President Barack Obama held 78 press conferences during his first four-year term, which translates into 1.6 times on average per month. Nevertheless, White House correspondents have complaints about lack of press conferences. President Park has held no press conference over the past year. President Park is effectively avoiding using a channel of communications with the public on her own.

In order to speed up implementation of a flurry of state agendas during her second year in office, it would be better for President Park to hold as often as possible press conferences that can broaden support and sympathy for key policies by explaining in person her plans on state administration to the public. If possible, it would be even better to try a method, in which the order of questioners and contents of questions are not coordinated with reporters by the presidential office in advance, and the president takes sufficient time to take supplementary questions, just like press conferences at the White House.