U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Makes Rare Criticism of President Park

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Makes Rare Criticism of President Park

SEOUL/NEW YORK, Dec. 19 (Yonhap) -- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made a rare criticism of South Korea's Park Geun-hye administration last week over a corruption scandal involving the chief executive and her longtime friend, voicing concerns over the country's "complete lack of good governance."

   During a conversation with the Council on Foreign Relations, a U.S.-based think tank, on Friday (New York time), Ban also pointed out that South Korea has never experienced such political turmoil except during the 1950-53 Korean War.

   His remarks sparked speculation that Ban, long considered a potential presidential candidate, has started to distance himself from the unpopular president who was impeached earlier this month over the political scandal.

   "(South Koreans) were very much frustrated and angry about the complete lack of good governance," he said when asked what he is most concerned about among a set of issues, such as the political crisis in South Korea, a rising China and North Korea's missile provocations.

   "And they believed that the trust on and for the leadership of the country was betrayed. That's why people became much more frustrated and angry. And I fully understand this situation," he added.

   Addressing the scandal that has gripped South Korea over the past two months, Ban said the political turbulence in the country is "surprising and unexpected."

   "When her father, President Park Chung-hee, was assassinated in 1979, those were the times when Koreans were going through a turbulent process. But this time, in a very peaceful society, very democratic, economically well-to-do society, this has happened," he said.

   Pointing to South Koreans' resilience and respect for democratic institutions, Ban expressed hope that the country will soon get over the political crisis.

   "I am convinced that -- while going through this turmoil, temporary turmoil -- soon they will be able to overcome this crisis. I hope that this will give good lessons -- good lessons to those in leadership in Korean society, whether political, economic or social," he said.

   Although he has yet to declare his intention to run in the presidential election next year, his name has long been bandied about as a formidable presidential candidate.

   Observers here expect Ban to start his political activities when he returns home in January after he completes his second five-year term as the U.N. helmsman at the end of this year.'

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