| "You made a record as the first woman floor leader in the history of our Constitution." (President Park Geun-hye)
"I think that it became possible because we have the first woman president ever." (Park Young-sun, floor leader of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy)
The first meeting between South Korea`s first woman president and woman floor leader began with such compliments. The meeting, which went on for 85 minutes from 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, was held in an amicable but serious atmosphere.
The short greetings were soon followed by discussions on major political issues. Before entering into serious talks, the opposition floor leader asked the president, "You might feel unpleasant but I would like you to hear me out." Then, she discussed various issues, including a Cabinet reshuffle and parliamentary confirmation hearings for Cabinet member nominees, issues regarding the sunken ferry Sewol, legislations and inter-Korean relations, while referring to documents she brought. The discussions were divided into three parts. At the end of each part, the president gave her answers or expressed her opinions.
Park Beom-gye, floor spokesman for the NPAD, said the president showed reactions to each issue in any form. Reportedly, there were concerns within the main opposition party about whether the floor leader would be able to say all she prepared to tell the president. However, she digested all the prepared materials and conveyed everything to the president, who listened to it all, sources said. An NPAD lawmaker said, "The floor leader did not mention the president`s alleged secret team handling personnel appointments.
Woo Yoon-keun, policy committee head of the opposition party, expressed his opinions on economic issues, saying that the state fiscal health and household indebtedness are at a crisis level and that the tax base has been weakened because of the tax cuts for the wealthy. President Park is said to have given no reply to the arguments.
The meeting was initially scheduled to end at 11:15 a.m. but went on until almost noon. Before the meeting, the ruling Saenuri Party and the NPAD agreed not to give any news briefing on the meeting except a joint one by the floor leaders of the rival parties. President Park gave watches with the Cheong Wa Dae logo to the four guests, while the opposition floor leader offered a scarf with Hangeul (Korean alphabet) patterns she hand-picked in person.
"Overall, the meeting was not satisfactory enough," an NPAD official said. "Still, I think the meeting was meaningful in that President Park offered to hold it first and promised to study the side effects of the previous administration`s controversial four-river development project and draw up relevant measures." A Saenuri official noted that "refined conversations" took place at the meeting.