Prime minister nominee withdraws amid criticism over past remarksUpdated: 2014-06-24 22:30:00 (KST)
Prime Minister nominee Moon Chang-keuk has decided to resign amid criticism over some controversial remarks he made a few years ago.
He said it was a voluntary decision he made to help the president.
Choi You-sun reports.
Another one of President Park's prime minister nominees has withdrawn before a confirmation hearing, dealing a heavy blow to the president's running of state affairs.
"I came to a conclusion that I would be helping President Park by stepping down at this point in time. Today, I'm resigning as the prime minister nominee."
Tuesday's announcement was widely expected after President Park, last week, delayed a motion to parliament for a confirmation hearing on the nominee.
Moon Chang-keuk drew heavy criticism from the public and the ruling and opposition parties for comments he made at his church a few years ago.
Moon said Japan's colonization, divisions of Koreas part of God's plan
Moon had said Japan's colonization of the Korean peninsula was part of God's plan to awaken the Korean people, and that He also divided the two Koreas to prevent communism from settling in the South.
Before announcing his resignation, Moon, however, stood by his previous defense that his comments were distorted after broadcaster KBS only aired portions of them.
"Every individual enjoys freedom of religion. That is a precious basic right. What is wrong with what I said according to my religious beliefs before my nomination?"
To politicians on both sides of the aisle that demanded he withdraw, Moon said it is the parliament's duty to govern by law, and not by public opinion.
Following Moon's announcement, President Park expressed regret that the nominee had missed the chance of public judgment at a hearing.
President Park's previous nominee Ahn Dai-hee stepped down last month amid allegations he accepted privileges and high earnings in the private sector after retiring as a Supreme Court justice.
The first prime minister nominee President Park named before taking office, Kim Yong-joon, withdrew her name over allegations of real estate speculation and ethical lapses.
Choi You-sun, Arirang News.