Opposition’s floor leader vows to fix ‘societal ills’

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Opposition’s floor leader vows to fix ‘societal ills’


Park Young-sun

New Politics Alliance for Democracy floor leader Park Young-sun called for the creation of a trilateral consultative body yesterday in her parliamentary speech before lawmakers to address what she called the “five major social ills” that have bedeviled the country.

“To bring about a society that respects the lives of the people, we need to fix five social illnesses,” the 54-year-old opposition lawmaker said.

Park defined poverty among the elderly, housing and labor problems, youth unemployment and a low birthrate as the most pressing societal issues. It was her first speech delivered as the floor leader of the main opposition NPAD after she was elected to the party’s No. 2 position last month by her fellow lawmakers. Her speech yesterday came a day after her Saenuri counterpart Lee Wan-koo also made his address in the main chamber of the National Assembly.

Promising before her colleagues that NPAD would work hard to fix these social ills, Park proposed that the government and the ruling Saenuri Party launch a joint consultative body with her party to tackle those issues.

“Poverty among the elderly in Korea stands at 45 percent, the highest among members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD),” Park noted.

Elderly poverty rates refer to those 65 and older living on less than half the median income of the general population. In Korea, the average annual income level last year was approximately $23,000 per capita, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Park also mentioned the country’s low birthrate, which shows that a woman gives birth to 1.18 babies on average, one of the lowest figures among OECD states.

“I promise you that NPAD will make the country take more responsibility to help parents raise their children by bolstering state support for day care centers,” she said.

Park also touched upon authorities’ seemingly unproductive efforts to arrest fugitive Yoo Byung-eun, the de-facto owner of Chonghaejin Marine Company that operated the doomed Sewol ferry, lashing out at the Blue House and prosecutors for what she called their incompetence. “How should the public interpret the situation in which authorities are failing to arrest a single fugitive? Doesn’t the current situation attest to the government’s irresponsibility and incompetence?” she said.

Despite Representative Park’s scathing criticism, lawmakers from the ruling Saenuri Party, who sat across opposition lawmakers, did not yell or ridicule her during her 20-minute address, in an apparent sign of respect.

It was in sharp contrast to the scene that unfolded two months ago when former Saenuri floor leader Choi Kyung-hwan shouted at NPAD Co-chairman Ahn Cheol-soo while he was delivering a parliamentary speech.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr ]

Correction and rebuttal statement by the Evangelical Baptist Church

The Korea JoongAng Daily, regarding the reports since April 16, 2014, about the Evangelical Baptist Church (EBC) and Yoo Byung-eun, is publishing the following corrections and an excerpt from the rebuttal statement by the EBC.


Through three past investigations by the prosecution, it has been revealed that Yoo and the EBC, also known as the “Salvation Group” and Guwonpa in Korean, are not related to the Odaeyang mass suicide incident. That was also confirmed by the prosecution in its official statement on May 21. The prosecution’s investigation also found that Yoo had not made an attempt to smuggle himself out of the country or seek political asylum in France. We, therefore, correct the concerned reports.

Yoo retired from his executive management position in 1997. He did not own any shares in the noted companies, nor had he managed operations or used the operating funds for personal reasons. There are no grounds to call him the actual owner and chairman of the company. As such, he did not provide any directives in regards to the overloading of the Sewol ferry or its renovation.

It was verified that the captain and crew members who abandoned ship at the time of the Sewol ferry accident are not members of the EBC. It has also been verified that the EBC does not own any shares of Chonghaejin Marine Company and did not engage in its management.

Rebuttal statement

The EBC’s position is that the museums in the United States and Europe can never authorize an exhibition unless the artistic value of an artist’s works is recognized by the screening committee, irrespective of the amount of money an artist donates. The EBC’s position is that the exhibitions were not a result of Mr. Yoo’s patronage or donation, and Yoo also has not coerced Chonghaejin and its affiliates to purchase his photos.

The EBC states that Yoo did not participate in the foundation of the EBC in 1981, and the church does not offer him the title “pastor.” It also says a significant part of the 240 billion won ($206 million) worth of assets suspected of belonging to the Yoo family are real estate properties owned by the farming associations, which had been established by church members.

The EBC states that there are certain churches in Korea that call the EBC a cult, solely based on differences between their’s and the EBC’s doctrines.

But the EBC does not worship a particular individual as a religious sect leader or preach any doctrine that contradicts the Bible.

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