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Former Ruling Party Chief Speaks in N. California

Posted May. 08, 2009 08:18,   


Former ruling Grand National Party leader Park Geun-hye yesterday hinted at visiting North Korea as a special envoy for South Korea.

She gave a lecture on “(South) Korea and the U.S. in a Rapidly Changing World” at Stanford University in northern California.

On if her potential role as special envoy to Pyongyang, she said, “It is possible only when the North has the intention or willingness to meet a person sent by the (South Korean) government and discuss problems on the Korean Peninsula.”

“While (South Korea) talks with North Korea and gives compensation when North Korea uses brinkmanship tactics, the North has taken a step closer to nuclear armament by buying time. We must stop this vicious cycle, and resolution of the problem depends on the North.”

Park added, “As long as North Korea has nuclear weapons, South Korea and the United States have limits in offering humanitarian aid,” she said, urging Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program.

On the Seoul-Washington alliance, she said, “(South) Korea and the U.S. must not just find joint solutions about military security on the Korean Peninsula but also cope with changes and challenges the world faces, such as the economic crisis and climate change.”

On the ratification of the South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement and U.S. beef imports in South Korea, she said, “Inconvenient and embarrassing events (under the previous administration) occurred, but under this administration, the alliance has recovered pretty much.”

“Koreans were worried about the food they eat as the government imported U.S. beef without giving sufficient explanation.”

When a U.S. political scientist asked her about revising the Korean Constitution to allow a president to serve an additional term, she said, “(The presidential term) is officially five years but except for the lame duck period and the first year honeymoon period, a president lacks enough time to work. The country would fare better if the people agreed to allow a president a chance at reelection and help policies take root.”

On the global economic crisis, Park emphasized the morality of the market and suggested “principled capitalism” as a solution to the crisis.

“The global economy is facing three challenges: the private sector’s greed, the loss of the government’s role and protectionism,” she said. “When self-responsibility, the core value of capitalism, is observed, capitalism will also be observed.”

On the government’s role in the economy, she said, “The government should not rule the market but needs to increase its role to prevent problems that could arise in the functioning market economy.”

Park added, “We must take care of the economically marginalized.”

The former party leader made her first public comments on government policies since the Grand National Party held its primaries in 2007.

Some 400 people including Stanford University students and professors and ethnic Koreans attended Park’s lecture.

Park delivered her speech in English.