South Korean archbishop voices hope for new president

Seoul, South Korea, May 10, 2017 / 09:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- An archbishop in South Korea encouraged the country's new president to bring unity to a nation struggling both from recent scandals and fears over North Korea's weapons tests.  

“I would like him to promote balanced development of the nation, and to appoint his staff in a fair and impartial manner so that all selected competent persons may take part in the new government administration,” Archbishop Hyginus Hee-joong Kim of Gwangji said in a May 10 statement.

“We also would like him to propose a clear vision and governmental management philosophy for the future which can make all Korean people in the North and South Korea reconcile and coexist in peace.”

The statement congratulated President Moon Jae-in in his victory on Tuesday. He won with over 41 percent favor of South Korea's population against two other candidates, according to the South Korea's National Election Commission.

President Moon replaced the former president Park Geun-Hye who was ousted after a scandal broke last November, leading to her impeachment and ultimately her imprisonment this year. The scandal involved bribery and abuse of power with one of her close friends, Choi Soon-sil, who together used their positions to demand money from major companies in South Korea.

Geun-Hye has been accused of using her power to coerce companies in donating nearly 70 million dollars, which was funneled through two foundations run by the former president. The National Assembly began stripping her of power last December and prosecution began with 13 criminal charges in March. Since then the charges have increased to 18.

The archbishop acknowledged the difficult times surrounding the months of angry mobs demanding for the ex-president’s resignation, and expressed the need for a president capable of uniting South Korea.

“Now we are in urgent need of a credible leader who keeps principles and steps towards true peace and justice beyond today’s conflicts and confrontations. May the new president be a great leader who can make democracy take root in this country, and bring peace and prosperity to the Korean people.”

President Moon’s landslide victory still faces the aftermath of political corruption, but he is also challenged by the looming issue of North Korea’s recent missile and nuclear tests.

North Korea has continued to pursue nuclear and ballistic missile tests, despite a ban from the United Nations and trade restrictions from China. The country has so far conducted five missile tests in 2017, including a failed attempt on April 28. Most successful tests have landed missiles into the Sea of Japan, but spectators have agreed that the tests are steps to extend North Korea’s reach of nuclear weapons to other areas of the world.

South Korea's new president has vowed to immediately tackle the issues regarding their northern neighbor. During his first speech as president, Moon said he would aim to sooth tensions between Beijing and Washington. He even said he would be willing to meet with the North’s leader Kim Jong-un if the conditions were right.

Controversy over a U.S. anti-missile defense system, which was recently implemented in Korean peninsula, has caused for skepticism from China, whose leaders say the system threatens the security of their country as well.

Along with his promises to tackle serious international issues, Moon said he would cut ties with South Korea's conglomerates and leave the office uncorrupted.

“I take this office empty-handed, and I will leave the office empty-handed,” President Moon said during his May 10 inauguration speech, according to Reuters.

Archbishop Hyginus Hee-joong Kim further encouraged the new leader to attend to the dignity of all citizens: “the vulnerable and disadvantaged in the society can be treated with human dignity and respect, where everyone enjoys the right to freedom of thought and conscience.”

The archbishop ended his statement promising to pray for the good of Korea's people under the leader’s service.

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