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Honest Talks with the President

Posted August. 20, 2005 03:04,   


Kim Woo-sik, chief of staff to the president, expressed his feelings about his one-and-half-year experience in the presidential office at the press conference for his resignation at Chunchu Hall on August 19.

Kim said that he served as a bridge to help the government communicate with the conservative camp through frequent meetings with conservative heavyweights.

“When I met leaders in the religious, media and political sectors, they attacked me saying that the current government is surrounded by ‘386 figures,’ the generation in their 30s who spearheaded democratization in the 1980s, and that the administration is tilted toward the left, anti-U.S. and so-called pro-North Korea. I convinced them, saying, ‘If that were true, I would not stay in the presidential office even for a moment. I’m not there to earn a salary,’” said Kim.

“To hear voices of the public, I took a taxi many times,” said the chief of staff. “Sometimes, I asked President Roh, ‘How should I respond to their opinions?’ as I relayed the opinions learned from the public to the president as they were.”

“Sometimes the president and I blushed faces with my outspoken words. President Roh responded, ‘It’s rare for a chief of staff to mention such messages in such a pure way,’ but we frankly discussed the opinions of the public. Through these talks, I realized the president is really a man of merits,” said Kim.

“People talk about weaknesses of the president, but everybody has a few of them. Unfortunately, the president’s merits are not widely known,” mentioned Kim. He added, “Whether you like him or not, he is the leader of the nation. I hope you give courage and support to the president so that he can serve the people with confidence.”

“The president does not often go out of the presidential office. Seeing him stuck in the office and worried about national affairs, I even feel sympathy towards him,” said Kim.

“With harsh criticism, with what confidence and pleasure can he work?”

“If the remaining two and a half years are swept with disputes and controversies, it will be really wasteful. Therefore, it will be helpful if the media leads a cooperative mood toward unity,” remarked Kim.

Jung-Hun Kim jnghn@donga.com