Saenuri’s Kim Tae-ho abruptly quits

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Saenuri’s Kim Tae-ho abruptly quits

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Kim Tae-ho


Saenuri Representative Kim Tae-ho abruptly resigned from his supreme council post yesterday, sparking questions over what prompted the decision.

He was elected to the position just three months ago.

During a party leadership meeting yesterday, the second-term lawmaker inexplicably declared that he was quitting because he felt helpless watching the National Assembly do nothing to pass bills related to reviving the economy.

“We need to reflect squarely on ourselves and what the Assembly has been doing [over the past few months], and whether we have just been wasting taxpayers’ money,” the former South Gyeongsang governor said when he made his announcement.

He added that he had decided to resign following much self-reflection.

The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) must come to the table, Kim continued, to pass a package of bills currently pending in parliament designed to boost the country’s stagnant economy.

“We need to put our titles [as lawmakers] on the line to pass these bills,” he said, adding that there would be no discussion on the prospect of a constitutional amendment unless such legislation was passed.

But despite Kim’s claims that his resignation was driven by frustration over a gridlocked parliament, doubts remain over his motives.

The fact that Kim has been a strong advocate for constitutional amendment has led to whispers that his decision to step down was related to the recent discord between President Park Geun-hye and Saenuri Chairman Kim Moo-sung over the issue.

Signs of a possible rift between the president and the ruling party leader emerged after the chairman indicated in remarks during a trip to China that he was supportive of a revision to the Constitution.

Those comments came just days after President Park made clear her stance against a constitutional revision, referring to it on Oct. 6 as a “black hole” that would suck up the time and energy needed to pass what she described as more pressing bills, such as those related to economic improvement.

The ruling party chairman issued a rare public apology to the president on Oct. 17, just a day after his comments, saying he had made those remarks without forethought and did not expect them to be publicized.

A possible clash between the two became apparent when a senior Blue House official on Tuesday criticized Kim’s apology, claiming that the Saenuri leader’s statement lacked sincerity and that his actions were intentional.

Consequently, speculation has arisen in the political sphere that Kim Tae-ho may have felt pressured to quit over his support of the amendment.

The former supreme council member was handpicked by former President Lee Myung-bak in 2010 to become what would have been Korea’s youngest prime minister. However, he was forced to withdraw his candidacy due to apprehension surrounding his ethical conduct as South Gyeongsang governor during his confirmation hearing.

But in 2011, he rebounded, returning to parliament after winning in a by-election. Kim was reelected in the general election the following year.


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


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