Park Geun-hye and Xi Jinping hold summit in Hangzhou

Park, Xi hold summit amid THAAD row

South Korean President Park Geun-hye (5th from L) hold summit talks with her Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping (5th from R) in Hangzhou, eastern China, on Sept. 5, 2016. The meeting came amid strains in their relations over the planned deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, in South Korea. (Yonhap) (END)

Source : Yonhap News Agency

Park Geun-hye attends G-20 summit

Park attends G-20 summit

South Korean President Park Geun-hye (L) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping as she arrives at the Hangzhou International Exhibition Center for the summit of the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou on Sept. 4, 2016. (Yonhap)

Source : Yonhap News Agency

Park Geun-hye hosts conference on competitiveness of cultural and tourism industries

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with more details)

SEOUL, June 17 (Yonhap) — President Park Geun-hye on Friday hosted a conference on strengthening the competitiveness of the country’s cultural and tourism industries and pledged to bolster them as part of a government effort to create jobs and stimulate economic growth.

The forum on combining the two industries to find fresh growth momentum brought together some 190 people including the ministers of education, justice, culture and transport, as well as industry leaders and students.

The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said that during the forum the government unveiled its plan to establish a panel on national tourism strategy, which aims to ramp up cooperation among government agencies and related industries.

The government also set a goal of creating 43,000 new jobs through various measures to strengthen the competitiveness of the tourism industry.

Speaking at the forum, Park stressed the importance of creating a “complaint-free environment” to make South Korea a destination that tourists want to visit again.

“Cheap tour packages or taxi swindles will damage visitor satisfaction and hurt the country’s reputation in the tourism industry,” she noted.

Pointing to the hospitality of South Koreans as a crucial factor in tourist satisfaction, Park stressed the need for concerted efforts to reduce unfriendliness and unhygienic facilities.

The chief executive also underscored that the quality of the tour programs is determined by what kind of content they present to the visitors.

“We can gain huge achievements by applying stories in respective regions,” she said.

Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) tour packages at the inter-Korean border are an example of good content that is unique to the divided country, she added.

Park also said the country should capitalize on the tourism industry to generate more jobs and reduce unemployment among the youth.

“Compared with the manufacturing sector, the tourism industry is an area in which we can make a breakthrough in creating good-quality jobs,” she pointed out.

The forum at Cheong Wa Dae had three separate sessions to discuss a range of issues such as tourism promotion, national competitiveness and job creation.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye (C) speaks during a conference on strengthening the competitiveness of the country's cultural and tourism industries held in Seoul on June 17, 2016. (Yonhap)South Korean President Park Geun-hye (C) speaks during a conference on strengthening the competitiveness of the country’s cultural and tourism industries held in Seoul on June 17, 2016. (Yonhap)

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(END)

 

Source : Yonhap News Agency

Park Geun-hye ‘sick leave’ causes unease

Following her recent return from a 12-day trip to four nations, Cheong Wa Dae immediately announced that President Park Geun-hye would be taking rest from state affairs this week, citing exhaustion from the intensive trip.

But some critics are doubtful about the reasons behind Park’s seclusion — though fatigue is plausible, considering the lengthy journey and tight itinerary — with some saying that the state leader may be attempting to bypass begrudging political situations.

“The president struggled throughout the tight trip, relying on intravenous injections, so her doctor insisted that she rest after returning home,” said An Chong-bum, senior presidential secretary for policy cooperation on Sunday, the day Park returned from France.

President Park Geun-hye arrives in Korea after her 12-day overseas trip on Sunday. (Yonhap)

Park showed up at the Memorial Day ceremony on Monday to deliver an address, but canceled most of her other schedules this week, including the regular Cabinet meeting which was chaired by Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn.

Cheong Wa Dae also refrained from commenting on current political agendas, including the legislative deadlock due to parties’ conflict over key parliamentary posts.

During her “sick leave,” Park’s approval ratings reached 36.2 percent — the highest since falling after the April 13 general election — backed by sympathetic sentiments of the elderly and conservative clusters.

The packed trip, during which Park covered Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, and France with long flights in between, might be reason enough for her need for rest.

The point of dispute, however, is that the Blue House on some occasions elaborates on the president’s physical condition in excessive detail, but declines to do so under certain circumstances.

In March 2014, Cheong Wa Dae explained that Park had failed to attend the official state dinner during her visit to Netherlands due to cold symptoms. During her visit to Latin American states in April last year, the Blue House spokesperson told reporters that Park was down with stomach cramps and pharyngitis, accompanied by slight fever.

Last November, she skipped the funeral ceremony of late President Kim Young-sam, citing cold and fatigue from the G20 summit earlier on.

But when faced with parliamentary questioning, Cheong Wa Dae took a contradictory stance, describing the president’s health condition as a confidential issue.

“The health condition of a state leader, being directly connected to national security, is classified as a state secret,” said an official of the presidential security office in 2014, when Cheong Wa Dae came under fire for purchasing an excessively lavish sports device.

By Bae Hyun-jung(tellme@heraldcorp.com)

 

Source : The Korea Herald

North Korea warns of revenge against Park Geun-hye

N.K. warns of revenge against Park

This photo taken from the (North) Korean Central TV Broadcasting Station on March 23, 2016, shows an announcer issuing a statement saying North Korea will “launch a retaliatory battle of justice to resolutely eliminate” the United States and South Korean President Park Geun-hye. Pyongyang also warned that it is ready to turn South Korea’s presidential office into a sea of fire. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap) (END)

Source : Yonhap News Agency.

Park Geun-hye urges officials to brace for provocations from North Korea

President Park Geun-hye said Monday that South Korea should brace for any possible provocations from North Korea amid tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Park said the possibility of provocations is growing, citing North Korea’s recent leafleting campaign against South Korea.

North Korea has floated leaflets criticizing South Korea and the U.S. in an apparent response to Seoul’s resumption of anti-Pyongyang broadcasts along the heavily fortified border.

South Korea resumed the psychological warfare as part of its punishment against North Korea over its nuclear test earlier this month.

Park called on officials to consider setting up regional police headquarters in areas near the border with North Korea. She made the comments in a regular meeting with top secretaries.

She also urged a major umbrella labor union to rejoin the negotiating table with the government and management, and said a landmark labor deal must be implemented to create more jobs for young people.

In September, labor, management and the government produced a deal — the first in 17 years — to ease labor restrictions. The deal will allow companies to dismiss workers who are either negligent or underperforming.

Last week, the Federation of Korean Trade Unions declared the breakdown of a landmark labor deal as it walked out of a trilateral meeting with management and the government in protest of the government’s labor guidelines.

Under the guidelines, companies can fire “noticeably” underperforming workers and will be able to amend their employment rules, such as those for recruitment and dismissal, without consent from workers.

The FKTU has claimed that the government’s announcement of labor guidelines is like “issuing a license” for employers to fire workers.

Still, Park rejected the claim, saying the guidelines are designed to create jobs by establishing fair and flexible employment practices. Park said workers will not be easily fired under the guidelines.

“I will push for the reform along with people, without being swayed by those who are against the reform,” Park said.

She also called on the FKTU to break from its practices of taking to the streets, warning that those who stage illegal rallies and instigate people will be held accountable.

The FKTU has vowed to stage a rally to try to thwart the guidelines. (Yonhap)

 

Source : The Korea Herald

Park Geun-hye calls for five-way talks to disarm North Korea

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President Park Geun-hye on Friday called for a separate meeting of five members of the six-party talks to step up pressure on North Korea, expressing skepticism for the first time over the efficacy of the decade-old negotiations.

During an annual New Year policy briefing, she prodded her top foreign, defense and unification aides to come up with ways to increase the “effectiveness” of Seoul’s approach, saying the nuclear issue should be first and foremost tackled as the center of North Korea policy.

“It should not be an easy problem given the participation of other countries, but we should look for various and creative steps, such as trying a five-way gathering excluding North Korea,” Park said.

“The six-party talks were once useful as a tool to resolve the nuclear issue through dialogue. But as the situation continues where the meeting itself cannot take place or, even if it does, it would not contribute to the denuclearization of North Korea, there will inevitably be a debate about its effectiveness.”

President Park Geun-hye talks during a policy briefing at Cheong Wa Dae on Friday. (Yonhap)

The six-way gathering has been dormant since late 2008, as Seoul and Washington urge Pyongyang’s sincerity and gestures to ensure progress on its disarmament as precursory steps, whereas Beijing and Russia called for a swift, unconditional restart of dialogue. The North, for its part, has been demanding acknowledgement as a nuclear weapons state and arms reduction talks, which have been flatly dismissed by the U.S.

South Korea has since late 2014 pushed for what it calls the “Korean formula” to restart denuclearization dialogue with the North or among the other five parties.

The content and method of the “Korean formula” has remained largely undisclosed, and it has so far failed to bring about any multiparty meeting. The U.S. has deemed the proposal as unfeasible, dismissing it at an early phase, according to Seoul diplomats with the close knowledge of the process.

During the meeting, Park also stressed the significance of China’s role in altering Pyongyang’s course, given Beijing’s veto power in the U.N. Security Council, chairmanship of the six-party forum and formidable clout over its intractable neighbor.

“What’s crucial after all is to create the situation under which North Korea has no option but to change itself, in which China’s cooperation is vital,” she said.

“China has so far displayed many times its strong resolve to never accept the existence of nuclear weapons on the peninsula. Now I hope it will take effective steps so that North Korea will realize its nuclear program will be of no use and come out to the international community alongside Iran.”

By Shin Hyon-hee(heeshin@heraldcorp.com)

Source : The Korea Herald

Park Geun-hye calls for airtight national defense

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President Park Geun-hye on Tuesday called on her top aides to strengthen defense capabilities and maintain airtight readiness posture, saying this year marks a “turning point” in her diplomatic and security policy.

Presiding over the first Cabinet meeting of the year, she also pledged to make constant efforts to put cross-border relations back on track, in an upbeat response to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s New Year address in which he said Pyongyang would strive to improve the ties and continue dialogue.

“This year we are at a very critical turning point in terms of diplomacy and security and must therefore stay vigilant at all times,” Park said at Cheong Wa Dae, citing the possibility of an unanticipated provocation and perennial threats from across the border.

“As a solid and reliable national defense is the paramount foundation, I hope we will step up efforts to reinforce our defense capabilities, stamp out weapons procurement-related irregularities and establish sound military disciplines.”

President Park Geun-hye speaks during a cabinet meeting at Cheong Wa Dae on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

With unification preparation being one of the top priorities for her statecraft, the president stressed the need to follow through on last year’s inter-Korean agreement and lay the groundwork for a peaceful reintegration.

Top officials from both sides agreed Aug. 25 to hold formal, high-level talks and arrange reunions of separated families — which took place in December and October, respectively. But no follow-up gestures have been made from either side since the dialogue collapsed due to irreconcilable differences in their demands.

“Given North Korea’s recent display of its resolve to implement the deal, I want you to strive to normalize the relationship such as by expanding civilian channels for a recovery of the national homogeneity and tackling the issue of separated families,” she added.

In the Friday speech, Kim for his part urged Seoul to cherish the spirit behind the breakthrough and warned against any “retrograde” steps or behavior that may dent the mood for dialogue.

“We will actively make efforts for North-South talks and the advancement of relations, and sit face-to-face with anyone who sincerely hopes for the people’s reconciliation, unity, peace and unification,” the young ruler said.

On the economic front, Park instructed the Cabinet to take measures to sustain the economic recovery and boost domestic spending within the first quarter, while continuing regulatory and anticorruption reform to induce private investment and generate more jobs.

To that end, the Defense Ministry unveiled plans to frontload nearly 5.9 trillion won ($5 billion) of its 38.8 trillion won annual budget.

It has already allotted more than 195 billion won last year from this year’s budget for facility, clothing and other expenses to help reinvigorate the economy.

“The measures are aimed at increasing the effectiveness of government spending and contributing to economic revival,” ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said at a regular news briefing.

By Shin Hyon-hee (heeshin@heraldcorp.com)

Source : The Korea Herald

Park Geun-hye pushes parties for reform

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President Park Geun-hye urged political parties to support her reform efforts and invest more in improving people’s livelihoods in her first meeting with the country’s key officials this year.

She also expressed hope that the political circles would regain the public’s trust by eradicating corruption and correcting “abnormalities.”

“Our future and that of our descendants depend on the ongoing economic reform and national innovation plans,” Park said on Monday, in her New Year’s meeting with key officials including the prime minister and members of the ruling Saenuri Party. The leadership of the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea did not attend citing the ongoing parliamentary strife over key bills and the controversy over the government’s Dec. 28 agreement with Japan on sex slavery.

“Unless we achieve change and reform, we will inevitably return to the past and face national difficulties.”

South Korea made remarkable progress in reforming the public sector last year by revising the civil servants’ pension system and also in the financial and education sectors, she said.

The bilateral free trade agreement with China has helped expand the nation’s economic territory. The diplomatic relations with North Korea and Japan, too, have made progresses, she said.

Despite such feats, however, there remain difficulties such as the economic slowdown of China and other emerging economies.

The president cited youth unemployment, weakening of corporate competitiveness and declining population as internal challenges and the Korean Peninsula’s diplomatic situation as an external risk.

“When I think of our future 10 years from now, I feel obliged to achieve the three-year economic development plan and the key reform plans.”

It is also crucial that the political circles should take the lead in the nation’s reform blueprint and give their efforts to improve people’s lives, she added.

The remarks were made as the National Assembly struggles to pass a set of bills, which Park claimed could help reform the labor market and revitalize the economy.

Parties are currently making last-minute negotiations on the bills so as to make meet the Jan. 8 deadline ― last day of the provisional parliamentary session.

The presidential office and the ruling party, having failed to reach an agreement with the opposition bloc, had pushed the parliamentary Speaker Rep. Chung Ui-hwa to put the bills to vote on his own authority.

“Our society is riddled with division and conflicts,” said Chung in his valedictory speech to the president.

“The only thing we can do to solve this is to harmonize and unite with one another, the ruling with the opposition parties, labor with management, and the North (Korea) with the South.”

By Bae Hyun-jung (tellme@heraldcorp.com)

Source : The Korea Herald

 

Park Geun-hye extends words of encouragement to military

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Park delivers a video message to the country’s 650,000-strong military on New Year’s Day. (Yonhap)

President Park Geun-hye said Friday she has “full confidence” in the country’s military, vowing to provide full support to improve soldiers’ mission capabilities.

“(I) have full trust in our strong and manly soldiers, and will provide full support for the execution of your mission,” Park said in a video message to the country’s 650,000-strong military on New Year’s Day.

“Our military should be ready to support national development and establish a new military culture,” she said.

All able-bodied South Korean men must carry out compulsory military service for about two years in a country facing North Korea across the heavily fortified border.

Meanwhile, Park began the new year by visiting Seoul National Cemetery with her aides and laying a wreath at the memorial tower.

In the visitor’s book, Park wrote her wish to “make 2016 a year of peace on the Korean Peninsula to contribute to global peace,” according to the presidential office. (Yonhap)

Source : The Korea Herald