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Cheong Wa Dae’s “Games” Criticized

Posted December. 25, 2006 07:37,   


The war of words between the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae and former Prime Minister Goh Kun continued on December 24, transforming into a head-on collision. The confrontation began on December 21 when President Roh Moo-hyun criticized Goh at the National Unification Advisory Committee (NUAC) meeting by saying, “The appointment of Goh Kun as prime minister was a failure.”

At a time when criticism is mounting over Roh’s remarks on diplomacy and national security in his NUAC speech, some indicate that by concentrating on denouncing Goh rather than explaining what was going on, Cheong Wa Dae is driving the current situation into a “political game”.

The president’s remarks, such as, “North Korean missiles are not aimed at South Korea” and “Do not waste a couple of years in the military,” are being harshly criticized, not only by experts, but also by the general public as “inappropriate remarks for a commander in chief in that the Korean military was belittled,” but Cheong Wa Dae has not given any particular explanation.

Instead, President Roh said at a meeting with his aides on December 23, “I have never spoken ill of him (Goh). It is very deplorable that they are attacking me without fully verifying the truth. This is something that they should apologize for.”

In a personal statement on December 22, Goh strongly condemned the president, saying, “The president’s remark that [Goh’s] nomination as prime minister was a failure is a self-contradiction.” He also refuted Roh’s demand for his apology on December 23 by stating, “What was conveyed to the public matters.”

Cheong Wa Dae criticized Goh again on December 24 when it stated, “It is inapprehensible that Goh, the first prime minister of the Participatory Government who is famous for his carefulness, is not verifying what happened between him and the President but engage in mudslinging first.” In a message posted on the Cheong Wa Dae Briefing news bulletin in the name of the Office of Chief Presidential Secretary for Public Relations on the day, Cheong Wa Dae argued, “It has been unprecedented that Goh ever gave any expression that quickly and clearly. We cannot but wonder whether he really thinks that way or he is pursuing his political interests.” One official from the ruling party stated, “Goh is clearly attacking the president out of the political intention of reviving his approval rating that has fallen recently. Making an issue of this will definitely give Cheong Wa Dae a winning chance.”

While meeting with journalists during his visit to the Seongdong Migrant Workers’ Center in Seoul, Goh refrained from making an official response by saying he would “not talk about the issue today.”

One aide of the former prime minister stressed, “Cheong Wa Dae is driving the scandal over Roh’s remarks into a political game in an attempt to distract the public from the overall mismanagement of state affairs,” urging the President to “fully realize the responsibility over his naïve sense of national security and the consequences of his misgovernment, such as economic recession, and come up with measures to address the situation first.”