| President Park Geun-hye presented economic innovation as basis of her second year national affairs plan. She also officially offered to North Korea reunions of families separated by the Korean War, raising hopes for a possible family reunion around the Lunar New Year`s holidays.
At a New Year press conference Monday, President Park said, "In order for people to feel the actual achievement, we will establish a three-year economic plan for innovating and making another leap in our economy and open an era of people`s happiness." With the three-year plan, Park said the country`s annual per capita income level will exceed 30,000 U.S. dollars and move toward 40,000 dollars. Last year`s per capita income was 24,000 dollars. This is the first news conference with reporters since her inauguration as president.
The president said that the government will push forth the economic plan centering on three objectives: normalizing the abnormal, nurturing a dynamic innovative economy (creative economy) and stimulating both exports and domestic demand to create a balanced economy. In last year`s inaugural address, she mentioned the word economic democratization twice, but didn`t mention it this year, hinting at a shift to economic invigoration. Asked for her opinion on constitutional amendment, she stressed, "Among other things, we need to revive our economy and make efforts to reach per capita income of 30,000 dollars and 40,000 dollars."
President Park also showed stronger commitment in public sector reform. She had introduced competition system in the railway sector last year. She emphasized law and principle and interests of the public in the reform, signaling tough relations between government and labor going forward.
On lack of communication, she said, "Communication does not mean embracing or compromising arguments that go against the public`s interest," adding, "The precondition for a true communication is to make a society where all people respects law while law is effectively applied to all people regardless of position and ranking." The main opposition Democratic Party criticized President Park`s remarks saying stressing law and principles while speaking about communication means that the Presidential Office will meet only people they want to," hinting at continued conflicts between leading and opposition parties this year.
President Park also showed strong desire to build basis for reunification of the Korean peninsula. She said, "Some people say reunification costs are huge, but I think reunification is a big success," adding "Reunification is a chance for our economy to make a huge leap." She added that the government will increase humanitarian aid to North Korea and make efforts to recover homogeneity of South and North Korean people.
"I hope that elderly members of separated families will be allowed to reunite around Lunar New Year`s Day to help heal the wounds in their hearts," Park said. Immediately after the news conference, the government sent a telephone notice to North Korea proposing a working-level discussion on Friday at Tongilgak, an administrative building on the North Korean side of the neutral border, to discuss the resumption of reunions of families. Seoul and Pyongyang agreed in August last year to hold family reunions during Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) holidays but Pyongyang unilaterally called them off at the last minute.
On South-North summit, President Park has reaffirmed that she is always ready to meet the North Korean leader. Yet she said conditions should first ripe for actual achievements to be reached for peace on Korean Peninsula. "What is important is not (North Korea`s) words but actions and sincerity."