Saenuri reps caution Park over dealing with scandal

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Saenuri reps caution Park over dealing with scandal

As the scandal over behind-the-scenes string-pulling at the Blue House continues to unwind, seven Saenuri lawmakers demanded President Park Geun-hye change the way she communicates with the people, a rare jab at the president from her own ruling party.

At a press conference Monday at the National Assembly, Saenuri Rep. Ha Tae-kyung expressed the concerns of the seven lawmakers over the way the presidential office has dealt with the scandal so far, going so far as to blame a lack of transparency in the Park government for the embarrassing revelations.

Rep. Ha, speaking on behalf of six other lawmakers that included Cho Hae-jin and Park In-sook, said Korea’s first female president has fallen short of effectively communicating with the public.

“To strengthen the communicative skills of the Blue House, the president should minimize the number of written reports and instead make face-to-face meetings common practice,” said the second-term lawmaker.

The 46-year-old lawmaker also said Park should stop using her weekly cabinet meetings as a venue to channel her thoughts to the public because it is a unilateral form of communication. He recommended she hold press conference in which reporters can ask questions.

Park is known for a reluctance to engage with the press, both before and after becoming president. She has been criticized as having weak communication skills.

Monday’s press conference was the first complaint about the scandal by ruling party lawmakers. It came a day after President Park reacted to the snowballing allegations during a luncheon meeting with the leadership of the Saenuri and its lawmakers.

Park characterized the leaked Blue House document that described attempts by Chung Yoon-hoi, her former chief of staff, to pull strings at the Blue House in cooperation with her key aides as groundless rumors. Park went on to say it was a “shame” that the country was rocked by such unfounded allegations.

The Sunday meeting drew fire from the opposition which said that Park once again unilaterally gave her side of the story without taking any tough questions, displaying a traditional top-down leadership style.

Criticisms has also risen that Park doesn’t understand why such allegations of behind the scenes string pulling and an internal power struggle have flared out of control and that she keeps her decision making process opaque, resulting in a series of botched personnel appointments, including two failed prime minister nominations earlier this year.

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

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