Lee: Polls loss won’t affect gov’t efforts

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Lee: Polls loss won’t affect gov’t efforts

President Lee Myung-bak pledged yesterday that the difficulties facing his administration will not diminish his all-out efforts for national security and economic recovery.

“Undaunted by any predicament, the government will concentrate efforts, without being swayed at all, on defending the country and reviving the economy,” Lee said in a Memorial Day speech at National Cemetery in Seoul to commemorate those who died in military service or during the independence movement.

In this way, those who sacrificed their lives and are buried in the cemetery can be repaid, he added.

Lee’s conservative government is struggling to ease soaring military tensions with North Korea, which it accuses of having sunk the South Korean warship Cheonan with a torpedo attack in March. The attack killed 46 young South Korean sailors. The South has cut off nearly all inter-Korean exchanges and referred the matter to the UN Security Council, to which the North has responded with threats of war.

But the humiliating defeat of Lee’s Grand National Party in last week’s local elections showed that the people do not fully approve of his hard-line approach toward Pyongyang.

The president and his party have come under growing pressure to shift their policy on North Korea.

In the first televised address since the elections, Lee did not directly state whether he will change his stance. But he said the dream of a reunified Korea - in which still-poor and oppressed North Koreans will enjoy freedom, peace and prosperity alongside South Koreans - has yet to be realized.

He added his government will step up efforts to locate and excavate the remains of soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War and independence fighters who died during Japan’s colonization of Korea from 1910-45.

Lee stressed, “The government will take care of people who sacrificed for the nation until the end.”

The ceremony was attended by 5,500 people, including high-level government officials, senior political party officials and the bereaved families of the 46 victims of the Cheonan.

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