Chung ㅡ 1st recycled PM

June 26, 2014
Prime Minister Chung Hong-won speaks during a policy coordination meeting at the government complex in Seoul, Thursday, after President Park Geun-hye announced her decision to retain him on the job. (Yonhap)

Prime Minister Chung Hong-won speaks during a policy coordination meeting at the government complex in Seoul, Thursday, after President Park Geun-hye announced her decision to retain him on the job. (Yonhap)

By Kang Seung-woo

President Park Geun-hye has decided to reinstate Chung Hong-won as prime minister.

“The President has declined Chung’s resignation and asked him to stay in the job,” said senior presidential public relations secretary Yoon Doo-hyun at a briefing.

Chung offered to quit on April 27, in order to accept full responsibility for the government’s failed response to the Sewol ferry disaster that left more than 300 passengers dead or missing.

Park accepted this, and told Chung to stay until things returned to normal.

Park’s decision is unprecedented but can be understood in the context of the problems that arose while trying to find a new candidate after two nominees withdrew.

Yoon said retaining Chung would prevent a further vacuum in state management and a division of national unity in the wake of the Sewol sinking.

Park tapped former Supreme Court Judge Ahn Dae-hee and former journalist Moon Chang-keuk to replace Chung, but both choices fell through — Ahn due to hefty lawyer fees and Moon for allegedly making pro-Japanese speeches in churches.

“In times of difficulty, President Park has asked me to keep the job,” Chung said during an executive council meeting.

“Although I made it clear that I would not accept it, the President’s earnest plea to prevent any interruption in the management of state affairs made me retain the job.”

The prime minister said that he will take a leading role in revamping the bureaucracy, rooting out corruption and normalizing abnormal practices, as well as offering critical advice to President Park.

In order to end evil practices that are deep-rooted in society which many people believe led to the tragic sinking of the ferry, Park has looked for a new virtuous prime minister, who would be strong enough to reform the government and establish the national safety system.

The press secretary said that once Park’s new Cabinet is formed, Chung, along with the strategy and finance minister and the education minister, will push for a three-year economic innovation plan and other state concerns, while making efforts to overhaul the nation.

Park has carried out a Cabinet reshuffle and replaced her presidential secretaries in an attempt to restore public confidence in her administration which was rocked by the Sewol ferry tragedy.

While announcing the retention of the prime minister, Park has decided to set up a new body to be responsible for picking top government officials in the wake of her bungled personnel selection while trying to fill vacancies in her administration.

Political analysts have said that the government should create such an organization in order to prevent further personnel-selection fiascos.

“The organization will conduct a thorough screening of nominees for government officials,” Yoon said.

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