중앙데일리

Roh asks for end to protests with an anti-American cast

Dec 30,2002
President-elect Roh Moo-hyun moved to distance himself from the anti-American themes voiced in recent demonstrations here.

At a meeting Saturday with the Pan National Committee, the organizer of recent "candlelight memorials" protesting the deaths of two young girls struck and killed by a U.S. military vehicle, Mr. Roh said, "I sincerely ask the public to restrain their protests. We should not ask the United States to surrender." Mr. Roh emphasized that handling the North Korean nuclear problem is his priority. He said that the North has pushed the matter to a dangerous level that benefits no one.

"To take care of the North's nuclear problem is a matter of national existence, and to revise the SOFA is a matter of national pride," Mr. Roh said. The SOFA is the Status of Forces Agreement, the agreement governing U.S. troops here; protesters have demanded its revision to bring U.S. troops under Korean criminal jurisdiction. Probably referring to those demands, Mr. Roh added, "I know well what the public wants in those candlelight protests. Provide me with more time."

The president-elect said that his administration will follow business and economic policies similar to those of the Kim Dae-jung administration. "There will not be major changes in the restructuring process currently under way," he said in another meeting Saturday with Jeon Yun-churl, the deputy prime minister for finance and economy. But he said he would look for weak spots of the current restructuring scheme, if any, and correct them to make the economy more open and fairer.

Mr. Roh said he would navigate by five markers in his restructuring policy: more transparency, sounder financial structures, stronger core capabilities at firms, ending business financial cross-linkages and promoting responsible management. He called for a ban on insider trading and investments across conglomerates' subsidiaries, reforms at nonbank financial institutions and more attention to combat illegal wealth within families.

Mr. Roh said he would not tinker with macroeconomic policy. "I will not devise an artificial short-term boosting policy, which would be a burden in the longer term," he said.

In the campaign, Mr. Roh had called for South Korea's gross domestic product to grow by 7 percent in 2003, a target that many economists called unrealistic.

by Choi Hoon




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