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So, President Park had a press conference

President Park Geun-hye gave her year-end press conference yesterday.

In case you were wondering, yes, that’s the first press conference she’s held in her term. You can read the address (and the subsequent Q&A) in Korean here.

As for the address, I didn’t find it terribly exciting. The Q&A, on the other hand, turned up some interesting nuggets.

Since many readers are interested in foreign policy, I’ll start there. President Park said she was willing to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, but she didn’t want to have “talks just for talks,” and stressed the need for environment in which talks can lead to tangible results. A lot of folk found her use of the term “jackpot” (daebak) to describe Korean reunification to be rather interesting linguistically:

“Due to prohibitively high costs, some seem to be satisfied with the status quo of separation. But reunification is a ‘jackpot’ for us as shown by the fact that famous investors vow to invest all of their wealth in Korea after reunification. Our economy will be able to rack up a quantum leap,” she said.

I hope she’s right, because the more I see of Kim Jong-un, the more I think reunification is coming sooner than later.

She also said she’d be willing to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but she also suggested work needed to be done before that happened. She also called on Prime Minister Abe to, well, stop being a dick:

“Since taking office, I have wished to improve the relationship between Korea and Japan. And to build mutual trust, I have stressed an appropriate historic view and a sincere attitude,” Park said.

“It is regrettable that the atmosphere has been broken repeatedly at this important time when cooperation between the two nations must be expanded.”

On the domestic front, President Park wants us to know she’s really not such a bad communicator after all. In fact, the problem is really that society apparently doesn’t know what true communication is:

“I think that we are required to understand what communication really means. It is not communication to have pointless meetings or compromise against the interests of the people,” Park said.

“Thus far, even illegal demands were accepted if they continued. It is not right to criticize me for not condoning convention. Genuine communication is possible when everybody abides by the law and the law is appropriately enforced.”

If society accepts irrational requests in the guise of communication, she said that it will end up harboring more distortions, which eventually cause more problems for the people.

I don’t think that’s going to have the intended calming effect. It goes without saying that the Hani wasn’t impressed, but heck, even the Chosun Ilbo’s editorial team wrote that if the government wants to be pursuasive, it needs to free itself of its own irregularities and chronic problems before lecturing the public. It also notes that almost nowhere in the OECD does it take the head of government a full 10 months before she gives her first press conference.

More on this later.

UPDATE: Government officials are bitching to the Dong-A Ilbo that Japanese correspondents were “rude” during the press conference. More specifically, they apparently approached President Park and asked why they hadn’t been allowed to ask any questions. One official asked whether Korean correspondents in Tokyo have ever gone up to PM Abe and asked why they weren’t allowed to ask any questions.

Well, if it makes the Japanese reporters feel any better, they weren’t the only ones not allowed to ask any questions. As TK points out, the Q&A was an entirely scripted affair. Representatives were selected according to media type—national news dailies, broadcast media, regional papers, foreign media, etc. The Dong-A- says that in the case of national dailies, a lucky draw was held (which the Dong-A and Segye Ilbo won). Foreign media are normally allotted two questioners—one from the Western press and one from Asia. This time it was Reuters and China’s CCTV. Questions were sent to Cheong Wa Dae ahead of time.

I should point out that Cheong Wa Dae’s relationship with the press—and some of the newer media in particular—is very much something to watch.

About the author: Just the administrator of this humble blog.

  • RElgin

    Well, a person or group can not buy credibility – it must be earned. This is a long- term problem that the Government and the Saenuri Party has had for too long. This problem also plagues the Chosun Ilbo too, so their commentary is dripping with hypocrisy too. Maybe if they both grew beards and moved into log cabins …

  • RElgin

    P.s. – Robert, these “around the web” links at the bottom of the comments have links to scam web sites (pop-ups for free iPads for completing bogus surveys). This is not a good thing to have on your blog since WOT will pick this up. (Money crashers)

  • seouldout

    It’s great that famous investors will invest all of their wealth. Quite a leap of faith.

    Has this government or any recent one ever released a nitty gritty blueprint of reunification, one that details step-by-step how Seoul will conduct this?

  • http://www.askakorean.net/ The_Korean

    Also of note: the supposed “Q&A” was completely scripted, and the president did not take any question from the progressive newspaper and media.

  • Guest

    After the promises she made to help the elderly in her election weren’t kept I hope this article from The Economist isn’t a sign of things to come.

  • dlbarch

    Jeez, thanks for pointing that out. So Reuters, CCTV, and the 중부일보 (!) get a chance to ask their questions, but not Korea’s leading left-of-center press?

    Crazy. The whole scene smacks of timidity. PGH needs to pull an Obama and schedule an hour-long, no-holds-barred sit down with the most left-wing journalist/critic she can find, a la Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly, and at least try to demonstrate that she can actually and unapologetically hold her own.

    I suspect that she can’t.


  • seouldout

    Are we sure Reuters, CCTV, and other foreign reporters were there?

  • seouldout

    Aren’t completely scripted “Q&A’s” the norm?

  • dlbarch

    BTW, on that whole cost of unification thang, I do hope that the younger generation will find its mojo and come to the hard and fast determination that whatever the economic, social, and political cost, Korea MUST BE unified — and at Seoul’s expense — if the country is ever to be truly great.

    A house divided may not fall, but it can’t be great, not really, and with apologies to my favorite exasperating Frenchman, Korea must be great if it is to have a lasting legacy.

    And for all our love-hate feelings about the place, I hope I speak for most MHers when I say that Korea and her people very much deserve a lasting legacy.


  • RElgin

    I had this article on my list, for the future, but have not reached a point where it is timely.
    Higher levels of suicide amongst the elderly is a reality here.

  • pawikirogii

    the young will do what is expected of them when the time comes, sir. dont believe otherwise.

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Well, to be fair, I’m guessing the 중부일보 and the Daegu paper got in because a certain number of questions were allotted to provincial media. And from the Dong-A report, it seems the national dailies were selected by way of a draw, so assuming that’s what happened, it’s not that Cheong Wa Dae intentionally excluded the Hani, Kyunghyang, etc. from asking questions.

  • kaypride

    i think you are a fucking idiot. just kill yourself please

  • seouldout

    Well, after reading the “Economist” article that guest linked to I doubt the youth have the stomach to bear the costs. If they are unwilling to help their own elderly parents and grandparents, how willing are they to support the impoverished millions?

    If the government genuinely wants to improve the public’s receptiveness I think it needs to do a better job pitching its plan. The estimated costs need to be disclosed. For instance, at what rate will they convert their won? How it will be paid needs to be understood..What’s the impact to SK quality of life if millions are allowed to stream south. Will this even be allowed? When will they be allowed to vote in national elections? As a voting bloc they could be a disruptive force. And a realistic analysis of the North’s ability to start earning its own keep is required. Is the plan to industrialise like the south did, starting with textiles? How will they compete with China, India, Bangladesh, etc? Will wages we suppressed?

    Or maybe the gov’t is betting that euphoria will overcome sense. Perhaps this the jackpot Ms. Park mentioned in her speech.

  • seouldout

    you need to knock it off with the violence.

  • RElgin

    I would agree with this assessment. Human beings are capable of things that we can only imagine. Only those unwilling to believe are surprised.

  • seouldout

    How bizarre. That comment was posted by pawi and later the name changed to kaypride. So far I’ve seen pawi’s comments change to those belonging to redwhitedude, fexxxxxx (the buzzsaw guy who wants to disembowel me), and now kaypride. Hey pawi, your entire family posting comments here? Who’s fexxxxxx? Your momma?

  • http://www.bcarr.com/ Brendon Carr

    Please explain how this is different from your boyfriend Barack.

  • http://www.askakorean.net/ The_Korean
  • http://www.askakorean.net/ The_Korean

    How many times do I have to tell you that I have been a Hillary Clinton supporter, and find this president to be lacking backbone?

  • yangachibastardo

    Our economy will be able to rack up a quantum leap

    Sure Prez as acquiring a whole new big, batch of unskilled peasants really quantum-leaped the local economy in the case of the German and Italian reunification

    Reunfiction= debt/GDP ratio at 120% in 10 years

  • yangachibastardo

    Ever been to Calabria (or Rostok for that matter) ? That’s how the problem will be solved: with the emergence of a Northern class of power brokers selling to the highest bidder in Seoul the interests of the constituency they represent, in exchange of the votes they control

  • redwhitedude

    Well if there is a plan for reunification then it is guaranteed not to go according to plan or perhaps they want to keep a lid on it. Partly why it will not go according to plan is that the knowledge of North Korea is anything but perfect.

  • redwhitedude

    Anything about reunification aside from wishing it is speculation.