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Pres. Park’s address should show her change first

Posted May. 19, 2014 03:52,   


President`s public address regarding the Sewol ferry’s tragic sinking should be a turning point for Korea, which can be construed as having changed before and after the April 16 tragedy. In her meeting on last Friday with bereaved families of victims at the disaster, President Park Geun-hye also said, “The Republic of Korea is striving to be reborn as a completely different country from what it was before the April 16 accident.” It is fair to say that the president’s address will determine whether the bereaved families and the public who are in deep sorrow and anger will overcome sadness and form a united front to create a "safe Republic of Korea," or public’s disapproval of the government will further accelerate and the government affairs will face a crisis.

The presidential speech will likely include Park’s public apology, construction of disaster prevention system through the establishment of the safety affairs agency, and measures to reform officialdom. Countermeasures are important, but we believe that only when the president displays changes of her own that can console sadness of the bereaved families and touch the heart of the public, which will make it possible for the country to be changed and improved. In their meeting with the president at the presidential office, bereaved families also expressed their desire, saying, “We hope that with the death of our children as cornerstone, our country will make more progress toward an advanced country.” For this to happen, President Park should demonstrate that she is the person ultimately in charge who assures the safety of the Republic of Korea, and that she could change her leadership style as well.

If the address includes half-baked measures that are hurriedly prepared just to show off rather than having practical effect, the public will be disappointed. It should be checked whether the establishment of a "safety affairs agency" under the Prime Minister’s Office will resolve the lack of central command in the event of disasters, and whether an independent counsel probe that the president agreed upon even before the results of the ongoing prosecutorial investigation come out is actually needed.

At the meeting with the president, one member of bereaved families said, “We witnessed that after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. prepare for one year (actually two years) measures amounting to tens of thousands (millions) of pages with support of experts from all different sectors, and stand strong as a country that is more trusted. We also want to see that happen as well.” If hurriedly prepared countermeasures eventually translated into shoddy implementation, chances are high that public trust of the government will highly fall into an insurmountable crisis. In order for her address to practically gain executory capability, the address will also need to include measures to seek cooperation from the opposition parties.

After delivering the address on Monday, Park will depart for the United Arab Emirates to attend a ceremony marking installation of reactor No. 1 at the nuclear power plant complex that the Korean consortium is constructing in the Middle East country. She has reportedly decided to attend the event to achieve national interests, judging that the project will contribute to galvanizing the Korean economy through advance of highly skilled Korean human resources into the Middle East. It is about time that even people who have difficulties focusing on vocational work in the aftermath of the Sewol disaster returned to their routines and focus on their job. This is also the way to ensure that the loss of many young lives will not end up being useless.