Democratic Party chief stresses welfare, gradual reunification in New Year's press conferenceUpdated: 2014-01-14 AM 6:27:31 (KST)
Democratic Party chief Kim Han-gil criticized President Park's New Year's speech, saying she failed to provide concrete details on how she intends to improve the livelihoods of ordinary people in a country with the world's highest suicide rate among the young and senior citizens.
"The president did not mention 'economic democratization' or 'welfare' even once during her New Year's speech. It's shocking."
Kim said his party will promote welfare support aimed at helping people live a dignified life.
"My party will strengthen policy for education, housing and health care to stop the collapse of the middle-class and restore the ladder of hope that enables the poor to move into the upper class."
Specifically, the Democratic Party chief said his party will push for free school meals, free high school education and cutting the cost of college tuition in half.
He added that he and his party will work toward putting a cap on rental prices, including jeonse, which requires that a large lump-sum deposit be paid up front and is returned in full at the end of the rental period.
Kim also called for a strengthening of public health care policy and an expansion of public medical facilities for patients with severe diseases and dementia.
He stressed that the party will oppose any attempt by the government to privatize health care or railway services.
He also said he welcomed President Park's concept of reunification as a "jackpot" for the two Koreas, but stressed that the government must be sure to take practical steps to improve inter-Korean relations and prepare for a gradual and peaceful reunification with North Korea.
"Targeting the local elections in June, the Democratic Party leader vowed to overcome the factionalism within his party and respond quickly to the public's demands. To break a long-standing deadlock in parliament, he pledged to push for an independent investigation into the alleged illegal electioneering by state institutions in 2012.
Kim Yeon-ji, Arirang News."
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