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Dubious purchases by pres. transition committee

Posted December. 31, 2012 10:47,   


Among rumors circulating in government, one says an organization whose members cannot easily repay credit-based purchases is the presidential transition committee. In the past, such purchases were reportedly so common at bars near the presidential office that they could be made by just saying, “We`re with the presidential transition committee.” The committee is an ad hoc organization, meaning that if members get dispersed with the dismissal of the organization several months later, bar owners have no way to receive payment for credit-based sales. This might have been created as a joke, but implicitly conveys a hint of reality that the committee is an organization that does not take responsibility despite its massive power.

Lee Kyung-sook, who chaired the presidential transition committee ahead of the inauguration of the Lee Myung-bak administration in 2008, said, “Koreans can and should pronounce `orange` the way it is pronounced in English," only to incite a public backlash. The committee backed down a bit by saying, “It wasn`t the official stance of the committee.” The episode only ended up as a slip of the tongue, considering that writing foreign words in Korean has not changed since. Around that time, fears over food safety were raised due to the discovery of the head of a mouse in a popular shrimp chips snack, leading to ridicule like, “As the transition committee chairwoman mentioned ‘young mouse’ (similar in pronunciation to `orange` in Korean), a young mouse seems to have appeared."

The committee chairwoman might have felt wronged that she suffered heavily for urging the correct pronunciation of an English word, but on the flip side, this occurred due to people who mimic the behavior of the winner in a war and half-baked political plans. The buds of candlelight vigils against the resumption of U.S. beef imports might have started from that moment. People on the committee at that time misunderstood as unconditional “entrusting of authority” as a result of the presidential election, in which Lee Myung-bak enjoyed the largest victory margin in Korea’s history, and thus might have cultivated a sense of antipathy among ordinary people.

President-elect Park Geun-hye was elected with the largest number of votes since the country began holding direct presidential elections in 1987. Ironically, she will likely launch her administration with the largest number of people against her. Considering the political situation, she can expect no honeymoon period with the media or opposition parties early in her term. Her presidential transition committee has just been launched, but is accused of “recruiting committee members” in secret. Though discussions have yet to be made over reshuffle of the government structure, the committee has sent confusing messages over where the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry will be located. The more basic and important matters of the administration`s direction and philosophy remain unknown. The committee is advised to get off to a good start to ensure success.

Industrial News Reporter Jang Kang-myeong (tesomiom@donga.com)