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Park Geun-hye’s Choice

Posted January. 08, 2008 08:16,   


Will former Grand National Party (GNP) chairwoman Park Geun-hye accept the offer to become the nation’s prime minister?

This is the question that has been recently bothering President-elect Lee Myung-bak and his aides. Although both old and young members of the party close to Lee see Park as the most potential candidate for the prime minister, Park’s decision to accept the offer seems to paint a gloomy picture in the political circle.

In contrary, the political circle analyzed that given the political circumstances, Park will not refuse the offer since she considers national interest as the highest value.

Lee’s aides believe that Park’s acceptance of the offer will clout the nation with strong effects such as securing majority of the seats in the upcoming general election, expanding power in Yeongnam and Chungcheong provinces by winning against former GNP chairman Lee Hoi-chang’s new conservative party and running stable national affairs with harmony within the party.

However, most of Park’s aides were pessimistic about Park’s acceptance of the offer. They argue that if Park becomes the prime minister, she cannot run for the upcoming general election and support their campaign. Therefore, it would be difficult to maintain their power within the party.

Representative Kim Moo-seong, one of Park’s top aides, said in a phone interview, “Appointing Park as a prime minister in the first half of Lee’s tenure of office makes no sense. It would be better to appointment in the latter half.” Some of Park’s top aides wished her to become the chairwoman of the party in July’s party convention.

Few of Park’s aides have even interpreted Lee’s move to appoint Park as prime minister as a plot to crush his opposition within the party. Amid growing tension over deciding the period to nominate candidates for the general election, Park’s aides are voicing stronger disapproval to the acceptance of the offer.

However, Park’s confidants who have assisted her for a long time said, “She is likely to accept the offer regardless of her aides’ opposition. Just look at how she accepted the appointment as the special envoy to China for President-elect Lee.”

“Her choice will not be unpredictable because her decisions always reflect her love for the nation and serve nation’s interest. Just as she took up the Special Envoy appointment at a time when party members were sensitive about nominating a candidate, she will not take account of political circumstances if she believes supporting Lee as prime minister is her mission for the nation,” said a Park’s aide.

One of Park’s aides interpreted Park’s remarks made on Jan. 2 in Daegu, “I will stay with the party and work for the development of the nation and its politics,” that her remarks does not mean she is not interested in becoming prime minister per se, saying, “I believe she made it clear that she will not count her chickens before they’re hatched.” He added that her experience as the prime minister will serve her well in the next presidential election because she does not have much administrative experiences yet. If she does accept the offer, she is likely to exert actual influence in the new government like former Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan did in the Roh administration.

Other candidates for the prime minister along with Park have showed different response to the offer.

Candidates include Lee Kyeong-sook, the chairwoman for the presidential transition committee, People First Party Chairman Shim Dae-pyeong, former Seoul National University President Chung Un-chan, former Commerce, Industry and Energy Minister Yoon Jin-shik and former Hankuk University of Foreign Studies President Ahn Byeong-man.

Lee Kyeong-sook who still has eight months to serve as the president of Sookmyung Women’s University, said in a radio interview, “After the Committee is wrapped up, I am returning to school.” However, an official close to Lee said, “Her remarks just based on the principle. They cannot be interpreted as a refusal to the offer.”

“I will not get the offer. It is simply unrealistic,” said Shim in the phone call. Chung also said, “How can I say anything when I didn’t even get an offer? I know nothing about it.” Ahn responded, “I have never heard of the offer and therefore, have nothing to say about it.” Yoon said, “I don’t have much to say on the issue.”