Park pushes reform agenda at luncheon

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Park pushes reform agenda at luncheon

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President Park Geun-hye and lawmakers of the ruling Saenuri Party salute the Korean national flag at a luncheon Wednesday that Park hosted at the Blue House. [Joint Press Corps]

President Park Geun-hye hosted a luncheon Wednesday for lawmakers of the ruling party to seek their support for her agendas to boost the economy and reform the country.

“Now is the time for us to revive the economy and concentrate our efforts on reform to create a new Republic of Korea,” she said in her opening remarks. “There will be many obstacles, but I believe we can accomplish it if we work together.”

Tuesday marked the halfway point of Park’s five-year term, which she marked by inviting Saenuri Party lawmakers to the Blue House on Wednesday. Of the party’s 159 representatives, 139 attended the luncheon as well as Park’s senior presidential aides.

“The 19th National Assembly will start its final regular session soon, and I ask for your best efforts to pass this series of bills concerning four major reform agendas and related to measures to boost the economy,” she said.

In addition to labor market reform, Park has vowed to overhaul the public sector, the financial industry and the country’s education system.

“I appreciate your efforts to accomplish this long-pending task of reforming the pension system for civil servants. But now, you are facing the grand mission of labor market reform, and I request Saenuri lawmakers resolve this at all costs for the sake of the country’s economy and the future generation,” the president said.

Over the past few months, Park has been particularly pushy about labor market reform, calling it a top priority for Korea’s survival, and tackling youth unemployment.

As a part of the policy, the government is also promoting the peak wage system to urge companies to save money on senior workers’ salaries to use to hire more entry-level employees.

In his opening remarks, Saenuri Chairman Kim Moo-sung promised the ruling party’s full support for Park’s reform initiatives.

Regarding the latest flare-up between the two Koreas and subsequent talks between top officials from Seoul and Pyongyang, the president acknowledged that there were many touch-and-go moments, but that she would not budge to avoid repeating a cycle of crises on the peninsula.

“Because the people’s safety and national security must never be threatened again by military provocations from the North, I handled this situation with principle until the end,” Park said. “The public remained calm and resolute in the face of this security crisis and it was a real help.”

She added that it was touching to see some soldiers delay their discharges and reservists preparing their military uniforms. “My heart moved to see their patriotism to protect our country,” the president said.

This was the second time Park has invited Saenuri lawmakers to the Blue House for a meal. At the last meeting on Jan. 7, 2014 - a dinner banquet - 240 ruling party representatives and local chapter heads were invited.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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