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"Our Chief’s Attention Is Focused On December”

Posted June. 01, 2007 03:21,   


A high-ranking official in the finance ministry, A, recently met a former minister, B, whom he had served under for a long period of time. Upon hearing B say, “I’m wondering whether I should join the campaign of former Seoul mayor Lee Myung-bak, the Grand National Party’s presidential candidate,” A replied, “Go join first, and please mention that I’ll be in contact with him after the presidential election.”

As the race between Grand National Party (GNP) candidates begins and ruling party’s campaign undergoes difficulties in producing a united front, there is growing interest in the political situation of the presidential election, which is causing activity among government officials.

A notable number of public officials, both in public and private, begin their conversations with the topic of the presidential election, asking, “Who do you think is going to win in December?” In particular, with presidential candidates likely to show keen interest in reviving the economy, one of the most noted failings of the current ruling government, there are a considerable number of finance officials who are sending ‘love calls’ to certain candidates, as in the case of A.

An official in the campaign of former GNP chairwoman Park Geun-hye said, “There have been some people, such as chiefs of a certain department or public officials at the rank of manager, who have shown interest in joining us.” He added, “But without resigning from their official post, realistically, it is difficult to actually work together.” Therefore, most officials are currently making sure they get noticed by providing reports or materials for briefings on specific pending issues. Officials who are observing the presidential candidates are also paying close attention to the policies laid out by candidates.

On the afternoon of May 29, a chief of a finance department at the Gwacheon Government Complex put aside the pile of documents on his desk for a moment and closely watched an economy-related policy discussion between GNP presidential candidates on television. He hinted that, “There is no ruling party’s campaign candidate yet, but studying the key pledges of potential candidates in advance will help in preparing for what happens after the presidential election in December.”

According to the opinion in government circles, although support for pan- ruling party’s campaign is currently low, it will not be difficult to find friendly forces among public officials after the candidate for the ruling camp is determined.

ddr@donga.com myzodan@donga.com