Moon to address nation in first press conference of year

January 9, 2019

President Moon Jae-in was set to address his nation Thursday in a press conference to mark the start of the new year.

The press conference will be held at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae from 10 a.m., starting with a 20-minute address by the president.

His keynote speech will be followed by a question and answer session where the president will take questions from about 200 journalists on various issues ranging from inter-Korean ties and economic conditions to local politics, likely including the recent controversy over the alleged surveillance of civilians by the top executive office.

Cheong Wa Dae officials have said the first press conference by the president in the new year will last about 100 minutes.

It will be Moon’s third press conference to be broadcast live on television as South Korean president.

North Korea will likely top the list of issues to be discussed, following the recent rapprochement between the divided Koreas highlighted by Moon’s trip to Pyongyang in September for his third and latest bilateral summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Kim has agreed to reciprocate Moon’s visit with a trip to Seoul that would be the first of its kind by a North Korean leader, at least since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. Many believe Kim’s trip will follow his second meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump. Kim and Trump first met in Singapore in June.

Many other thorny issues await the president, including the recent controversy over allegations that Cheong Wa Dae may have been engaged in the illegal surveillance of civilians, politicians and former government officials.

Such allegations came in a supposed confession of a former inspector at Cheong Wa Dae.

The presidential office has repeatedly dismissed the allegations, saying the former inspector had spied on civilians on his own despite several warnings from his superiors. It has filed a complaint against the former inspector for violating his confidentiality agreement.

The economy is another major issue for Moon as many believe Asia’s fourth-largest economy is showing signs of a slowdown.

The country’s minimum hourly pay rate has jumped nearly 30 percent in less than two years since Moon took office in May 2017, while the government is also expanding its spending on social welfare, apparently placing an additional burden on local businesses.

Moon has insisted any ongoing or future difficulties caused by his initiative are a necessary part of a change that is critical to ensuring continued and sustainable growth.