A question of style

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A question of style

President Park Geun-hye has pledged to do her best to communicate with political circles. At Tuesday’s meeting at the Blue House with senior journalists from newspapers and broadcast media, the president said she will have a regular meeting with heads of the ruling and opposition parties and establish a consultative body representing the government and three major parties. We welcome the announcement by the president given the much-criticized lack of communications with them, as seen in the difficulties even for her Blue House staff to directly report to the president.

Tuesday’s meeting with the press is the first of its kind since 2013 when she came into office. President Park opted for Cabinet meetings or senior secretaries’ meetings to deliver her messages to the nation. She has been shying away from meeting leaders of ruling and opposition parties, not to mention conversations with the public. In the process, her image as a state leader without communication skills was consolidated, which played a part in the ruling Saenuri Party’s crushing defeat in the April 13 general election and her plummeting approval ratings.

We hope the president’s meeting with the press will mark a turning point for the way she governs the nation. The question is whether she is really serious about the issue. At her earlier meeting in 2013 with those senior journalists, President Park also promised that she would listen to various voices in our society. But it didn’t come true.

Advisors to the ruling party, who are mostly comprised of big names from all walks of life, unanimously urged the president to dissolve the pro-Park faction in the party. The advisors attributed the ruling party’s overwhelming loss in the election and her no-so-smooth national governance to the factional fights between pro-Park group and the rest. At Tuesday’s workshop at the National Assembly, Saenuri Party lawmakers-elect also called for a change in her governance style. But the president stopped short of accepting responsibility for the election defeat and refused to reshuffle the presidential office. Instead, she said she did not form the pro-Park faction, which only makes us wonder if she really can change her style for the remainder of her term.

President Park was elected partly thanks to her rosy campaign promises. But she has made little, if any, achievements so far. With the liberal oppositions in control of the legislature, she must have dialogue with — and persuade — them. She must explain and convince the public about government policies. That’s the way to go. It’s only a matter of time before she becomes a lame duck — if she does not change her governance style.

JoongAng Ilbo, Apr. 27, Page 30
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