Park and the Unification Ministry in dissonance again

I wrote this for NK News on May 15 but it was discarded, citing it is too one-sided. I'll let you judge it. —Subin


SEOUL—President Park was again out of step with the Ministry of Unification on the North Korea issue. The ministry had to turn its posture upside down after Park called for talks with North Korea to discuss remaining issues on the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

Park called on the ministry in a cabinet meeting Tuesday morning to offer talks to North Korea to bring products and raw materials back from the complex in order to reduce further damages for companies. At the very same time with the cabinet meeting, a senior ministry official told reporters that it requires the North’s change of posture to commence talks. “There is nothing can be done else than the government has already done. Now it’s the North Korea’s turn,” the official said.

After the ministry learned of the Park’s remarks, it couldn’t conceal its embarrassment. Even the Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae, who joined the cabinet meeting that morning, allegedly wasn’t aware of her intention beforehand. The ministry answered that it hasn’t made its position clear to reporters requesting to explain the President’s remarks which were in discord with what the ministry told them hours ago. It later proposed talks to North Korea after a staff meeting which was hold in a hurry.

This wasn’t the first time that a mismatch of position between the President and the ministry occurred. Last month, the minister mentioned his hope for North Korea coming to talks in a statement but made himself clear to reporters that he wasn’t offering talks. But in a few hours at the dinner with members of the ruling party, Park said that she will have talks with the North and ‘explained’ that the minister’s statement meant it. In the next day, Prime Minister Chung Hong-won further intensified the confusion claiming that offering talks aggravates the situation.

Critics have been pointing out Park’s reluctance to communicate her ideas plainly since her days of the presidential candidate. She enforced appointing Yoon Chang-jung as the Presidential spokesman in spite of fierce opposition citing his extreme rightist views and vulgar tongue. Park has recently been under heavy fire caused by Yoon’s sex scandal during her first presidential visit to the U.S.

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