President Park Geun-hye said Thursday she humbly accepts the results of the nationwide local elections and will push forward with her reform agenda in a speedier manner.
Her pledge came after her ruling party avoided a crushing defeat in this week's local elections despite widespread criticism of her government in the wake of April's ferry disaster.
"Combining the strength and wisdom of our people ... I will push for economic revitalization and other reform agenda much faster," Park said during a meeting with decorated patriots and bereaved families ahead of Friday's Memorial Day holiday.
President Park Geun-hye attends a luncheon with decorated patriots and bereaved families at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Thursday. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
"I will spur efforts for public sector reform and the three-year economic innovation plan while at the same time devoting all my energy to laying the foundation for a peaceful unification (with North Korea) based on an airtight defence posture," she said.
The remarks appear to show that Park has regained confidence in running state affairs after the ruling Saenuri Party fared better than expected in Wednesday's local elections.
The ruling party won eight of the 17 key races for big-city mayors and provincial governors, while the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy won the other nine races, including Seoul mayor.
As the first nationwide elections under Park, the polls were seen as a test of public support for the conservative administration that has drawn heavy fire for its botched handling of the sinking of the ferry Sewol in April that claimed the lives of more than 300 people.
Despite the widespread criticism of the government, however, the results were not as in favour of the opposition as had been expected. Regionalism demonstrated its power in this week's elections again, with the ruling and opposition parties sweeping races in their home turf regions.
Earlier in the day, Cheong Wa Dae made public the president's view on the outcome of the elections.
"We believe that the election results, which carry various meanings at a time of national difficulty, represent the precious wills of the people in themselves," presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook said. "We will humbly accept the wills of the people reflected in every single vote and do our best to rebuild the country."
The ruling party also said it will work hard for the country's future.
"We are grateful for the sense of balance of the people, and we acutely felt again how fearsome the public sentiment is," Rep. Lee Wan-koo, the party's floor leader, said, adding that the party takes the results as an order that it should work harder for the country's future.
The main opposition NPAD said it weightily accepts the election results.
"We believe the election results are an order for both the ruling and opposition parties that we should make a new Republic of Korea," Rep. Kim Han-gil, a co-leader of the party, said during a party meeting.
Kim also urged the ruling party and the government to work harder to care more for the people, saying the election results also represent a warning by the people about the government's incompetence in handling the ferry disaster.