Park gives warning to deputy prime minister

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Park gives warning to deputy prime minister

President Park Geun-hye yesterday issued a verbal yellow card to Hyun Oh-seok, deputy prime minister for the economy, saying government officials are advised not to make remarks that hurt the feelings of the people and those who do in the future will be held responsible.

“It is a shame that there has been a chain of occasions in which inappropriate comments by public officials offended the people and nurtured mistrust,” said the president in a weekly meeting with her senior secretaries. “Each and every word from those people holding responsible posts in society has a huge influence on a lot of people and their words carry more weight [than the words of others]. If they make an effort to put themselves in the common people’s shoes, they will get to the essence of the problems.”

Park stressed that if awkward comments are made again, she will “definitely hold the person accountable.”

The obvious target of her complaint was Hyun, who is both deputy prime minister for the economy and the finance minister.

After the unprecedented leak of personal account information by three credit card companies, Hyun told reporters last Wednesday, “Foolish people always talk about responsibility and get concerned whenever something happens whereas wise people take preventive measures, motivated by the occasion.”

He also said, “Financial consumers are supposed to be prudent from the point of providing their personal information. Haven’t we all agreed to volunteer personal information?”

Hyun tried to calm an angry backlash the following day by saying he did not intend to blame the public for the leaks of personal financial information. But it was too late, with some people calling for his resignation.

Instead of firing Hyun, President Park came out with a warning. She has repeatedly said she doesn’t want to carry out a major reshuffle, citing too much work ahead in her second year in office. Instead, the president pledged to take “fundamental measures so the damage won’t be felt by the public” as a result of the leak of personal data. She ordered her secretaries to come up with measures concerning collecting, saving and managing personal information and to look into whether there could be any alternatives to resident registration numbers being used by companies like credit card companies.

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