Park’s communication problems

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Park’s communication problems

President Park Geun-hye yesterday explained to her senior secretaries why she decided to let Prime Minister Chung Hong-won remain in office despite an earlier pledge to dismiss him. She also announced ways to overhaul current systems for appointing high-profile officials while calling for an improvement in the current confirmation hearings at the National Assembly. But given the repercussions from her nomination of Moon Chang-keuk as prime minister and her continuously botched appointments, her explanations lack style and content.

President Park prefers to use senior secretaries’ meetings as forums to explain her decisions, which is not effective. A meeting with her senior aides is an internal meeting rather than a public communication tool. As Moon’s withdrawal and Chung’s staying in office are top priorities and as the people want to know why she has made such decisions, Park must talk directly to the people instead of expressing ideas to her staff.

Park is already a leader who is afraid of press conferences: She has not had one since her New Year’s address in January. That reflects her fears of the press attacking her for her problematic governance and her lack of confidence in explaining her agendas to the people.

Park’s remarks at the internal meeting are also confusing. She said her aides must find “impeccable candidates” while at the same time stating that the media and the opposition camp have repeatedly attacked her nominees based on public opinion. What is she trying to say? Citizens are eager to know why she did nothing to confront the public’s judgment and if she really believes the once-vegetative prime minister has the energy to kick off a national revamp as promised.

U.S. President Barack Obama takes a different course. Whenever the need arises, he explains to the White House Press Corps why he has to change his spokesperson - even while the same spokesperson is briefing journalists. But our president was hiding in the presidential residence while the country suffered from the absence of a prime minister.

The president said she will create a pool of talent to prepare for contingencies. But how many will accept the Blue House’s background checks when their new positions are not fixed? The president must guarantee the independence of the new presidential secretary for personnel affairs, and if a candidate is determined, she must seek help from opponents. If not, she cannot expect their support.

JoongAng Ilbo, June 1, Page 30

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