[PLATFORM]Why this election is historic

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[PLATFORM]Why this election is historic

Excerpts from a speech delivered yesterday at the Seoul Foreign Correspondents’ Club.

The upcoming election is certain to become a precious opportunity for Korean politics to mature into full democracy by discarding outdated and detrimental practices.
Next week's election is the first one held since the old system, which had one man dominate the entire political landscape, came to a close. It is also the first election since the sweeping system overhaul put an end to a series of money-driven, corrupt elections.
We can see from the recent campaigning that old practices are now gone and more importance is placed on debates and personal character.
Great transformation is taking place in the Korean political scene. In that respect I firmly believe that the 17th general election will be recorded as a major turning point in political history.
The GNP sees the following as the tasks we must perform: Revive the economy; change the political culture; settle peace on the Korean peninsula while promoting economic development both for South and North Korea.
First, all party resources would be focused on reviving the economy. Formerly the most dynamic in the world, the Korean economy is now under great hardship. The global economy has rebounded and is on an upward climb, but Korea's economy is still trapped in the tunnel of recession.
The first step to revitalizing the economy is for Korea to become a good place to do business and to create a friendly environment for foreign investors.
In order to resurrect the economy, the GNP will carry out four major tasks, which are promoting consistency in policies, loosening regulations, stabilizing labor relations, and opening up the economy.
Foreign reports indicate unclear policies are the biggest cause for foreign investors' hesitance in investing in Korea and under-valuation of Korean companies.
It is true that ever since its inauguration, the current administration failed to earn the trust of investors because of often confusing and conflicting policies. The GNP will spearhead the efforts to adhere to the firm principle of free market economy and maintain consistency in government policies.
Another important task is to abolish unnecessary regulations that hinder investment.
The GNP will support the removal of institutional barriers as much as possible through legislation, so foreign investors can engage in economic activities without feeling inconvenienced.
Confrontational labor-management relations that frightened away investors should be improved. The focus will be placed on establishing law and order in labor negotiations, while enhancing transparency in corporate management.
The GNP played a leading role in performing "the Miracle on [the] Han River." The GNP will use all means at its disposal to support investors doing business and making investment in Korea.
Second, we will lead the changes in political culture. While repeatedly involved in confrontation and emotionally charged attacks, Korean politics neglected to look after the lives of the people.
Now it's time for politics to be grounded on pragmatism and help people make [a] living, as well as for the GNP to transform into a policy-oriented political party armed with sound measures so that people can enjoy a more refined and advanced life and political culture.
Institutional reform is not enough to overcome the regional and generational discord and open the era of genuine integration. Politicians and political parties should take the initiative to change the political culture from the negative to positive, from mutual criticism to mutual respect.
Third, in order to settle peace on the Korean peninsula and enable [the] two Koreas to prosper together, we will take a more active and future-oriented role while upholding the idea of free democracy.
Until now the North Korean policies of the GNP have come under attack for being somewhat rigid. We plan to establish more flexible, future-oriented policies.
The GNP will implement its North Korean policies with the following three tasks in mind.
First, North Korean policies must be carried out in a transparent way with public consensus. Policies on North Korea should not be monopolized by one administration or swayed by party interests. That is how we can prevent the splintering of national opinion that impelled people to attack each other as pro-North leftist or anti-reunification forces. It is urgent, therefore, to found a North Korean policy institution that transcends party lines and induces cooperation and participation from both the ruling and opposition parties, as well as from the government.
Second, rules and principles of inter-Korean relations should be established and institutionalized.
Various inter-Korean cooperation and exchange programs have stalled because of the disregard for principles and a lack of institutionalization efforts. It is not too late to set up clear rules and principles between the two sides.
Third, [an] external environment suitable for settling peace on the peninsula must be created.
Peace on the Korean peninsula is a matter concerning not only the two Koreas, but also the whole world. For North Korea to join the global community as a responsible member and take part in the world economy system, South Korea must fully display its diplomatic competence to convince North Korea to form normal ties with the U.S. and Japan, on the basis of the solid Korea-U.S. alliance.
The most pressing issue for realizing peace in the region is none other than the resolution of the North Korean nuclear threat. Pyeongyang must discard its nuclear development program and respond positively to the efforts of the international community to establish peace on the Korean peninsula.
We hope for the six-party nuclear talks on the North Korean nuclear issue to yield productive outcomes. However, we cannot pin all our hopes on the U.S. and China and the six-nation talks to extinguish the North Korean nuclear ambition. So we must do our best to resolve the issue in our own way.
We must discuss ways for North Korea to reform and open the nation, and ultimately for both Koreans to develop together. The talks should also include the means for the GNP to contribute toward peace and development of the Northeast Asian region.
To actualize these objectives I will visit North Korea and the U.S. after the election as the representative of the opposition party. The GNP and I will endeavor to raise the quality of life for all Koreans by firmly planting peace on the Korean peninsula and seeking joint growth for South and North Koreas.
The challenges of the times facing Korea are harsh indeed, but the Korean people have the undying energy that could bring about a success more spectacular than "the Miracle on [the] Han River." Korea will rise again.

The JoongAng Daily welcomes policy statements from the political parties.

* Park Geun-hye is the chairwoman of the Grand National Party.

by Park Geun-hye
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