President losing young supporters

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President losing young supporters

Some of the young and aspiring politicians formerly categorized as “President Park Geun-hye’s people” appear to be turning away from her. These moves mostly seem to stem from an overall discontentment with the conservative president’s stance and her performance over the past 11 months.

Sohn Su-jo, a 28-year-old political rookie with the ruling Saenuri Party who ran against Democratic Party giant Moon Jae-in in the April 2012 general election, wrote on her personal Facebook page on Sunday that the Saenuri “ended up returning the passion of young people with falsehoods.”

Sohn, an icon of reform for the ruling party under Park’s leadership, was appointed as the head of its future generation committee a year ago.

She garnered significant political attention for her low-cost campaign against Moon, a Democratic heavyweight. Park, who was then the Saenuri’s presidential candidate, personally supported her run and Sohn earned the nickname the “Park Geun-hye kid.”

However, Sohn, who recently completed her one-year term as committee leader, criticized Park and the ruling party for replacing committee members without discussing the decision with current ones. She added that “no proper young person would stay with the Saenuri under the current system; the party does not seem to be adept at fostering next-generation politicians.”

Lee Jun-seok, another Park favorite, was also vaguely critical of the administration on Tuesday.

“The reason North Korea is ridiculous is because it destroys and delays key issues at its disposal and reacts very strongly and rapidly to behaviors that insult its own leaders,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “That’s why the international community ridicules North Korea.

“[In difficult times], party leaders only think of the top leader’s agenda” he added. “This is really a story about North Korea, actually. But it remains to be seen whether this is merely about North Korea.”

His comments leave room for multiple interpretations, including controversy surrounding what some critics and politicians describe as Park’s reluctance to accept criticism and advice.

Lee, a 28-year-old graduate of Harvard University, served as one of the members of the Saenuri Party’s emergency leadership committee from December 2011 to May 2012. Afterward, he refused an offer from the ruling party to become a proportional representative and returned to his previous job to run his own education start-up.

In a similar move, Kim Jong-in - famous for being a long-time economic adviser for President Park - recently left his position with the ruling party. Though not a lawmaker, Kim headed the Saenuri’s committee for the promotion of public happiness.

“I am going back to where I used to belong since I have nothing to do at the party,” he said in a CBS radio show last Friday. “I want to be free again like before.”

Kim, however, has yet to set an exact date for withdrawing his membership.

Some speculate that his voluntary defection may signal his condemnation of Park’s failure to fully comply with her campaign pledges over economic democratization and welfare and her unilateral way of governance.

In the same CBS radio show on Friday, Lee Sang-don, an honorary professor of law at Chung-Ang University and a conservative political activist, said Park had deviated too far from her original promises during the presidential race.

“It seems like she has gone a little far from the steps she showed as a lawmaker with the opposition party before,” Lee said. “Once you launch the government, you should have the attitude that you will do your best to cooperate with the opposition party and to debate in matters needing debate.”

He added that Park’s campaign promises regarding political reform, creative economy and an overhaul of the prosecution system seem to have faded since her inauguration.

BY SEO JI-EUN [spring@joongang.co.kr]


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