President Yoon Suk Yeol’s conversation with KBS for Lunar New Year’s Day on Wednesday left a lot to be desired in terms of its content, format, and preparation process. The conversion video, which was filmed three days earlier by a selected broadcasting company and edited with inserts of the images taken from different locations in the presidential office, felt like a PR documentary. The questions asked were too friendly and far from being critical, which didn’t even meet the standard of a conversation. Most of all, a large number of questions that people are curious about and want to ask the president were missing.
Most of the questions that were asked were the ones that the president would like to answer or could not avoid. Even the question about First Lady Kim Keon Hee’s alleged receipt of a luxury bag referred to the bag as a “so-called pouch or small bag by a foreign brand,” minimizing its significance and approaching the issue as a problem of formality and guard.
The questions that President Yoon wouldn’t like to answer or would feel uncomfortable with were missing. He was not asked about the acquittal of former Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae in the first trial of judicial manipulation, which was investigated under the responsibility of the president, or about the guilty verdict of Chief Prosecutor Son Joon-seong in the first trial of criminal complaint incitement. A question about whether the president actually asked Han Dong-hoon, the head of the emergency response committee of the People Power Party, to resign was not asked either.
It was also hard to understand why there was no question about the three major public pension reforms, labor, and education. The three major reforms were put forward as the three major priority projects by the president during his first speech to the National Assembly since he took office and were described as “essential, not optional.” There was no question probing about the public pension reform in which a lackluster reform plan created by the government has been stuck in the National Assembly or the educational reform in which sporadic policies, such as those to reduce private educational costs and to increase college entrance spots with no designated major, are causing significant side effects at schools.
The president has the “duty of explanation,” corresponding to his great authority as the head of national affairs. Such inevitable responsibility of the president should not be avoided or restricted based on the president’s preferences. The press should also ask and demand answers on behalf of the public to protect people’s right to know. The poor and inadequate conversation with KBS cannot replace a press conference.