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Opposition party chief slams Park for curtailed pension promise

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SEOUL, Sept. 27 (Yonhap) -- The leader of South Korea's main opposition Democratic Party (DP) lambasted President Park Geun-hye Friday for scaling back her key election pledge of universal pension plans, vowing to strengthen its ongoing anti-government campaign.

On Thursday, President Park apologized for scaling down the universal basic monthly allowance for all senior citizens, citing financial woes.

As one of Park's key campaign pledges during last year's presidential election, the basic pension plan called for giving 200,000 won (US$186) per month to all senior citizens aged 65 or above. But the government has decided to make the benefits commensurate with their wealth and income.

"President Park Guen-hye has reversed the course against her election pledges which earned her votes," Kim Han-gil said during a press conference hosted by the Seoul Foreign Correspondents' Club in central Seoul.

"Every single welfare promise she made to the children, to the elderly turned out to be empty ones ... Her government simply spouts rhetoric for the livelihoods of the people, but tramples on them instead."

Kim pointed out that Park is "totally different from German Chancellor Angela Merkel" in the way she has been handling her election pledges.

"Chancellor Merkel accepted policies from the opposition side, which in part contributed to her election victory. President Park was very similar with her in that sense," Kim said.

"While Merkel has been striving to embrace and put in practice the opposition's claims, Park is taking a totally different course of scaling back or giving up what she promised," he added, vowing not to approve her latest proposal.

The DP chief also repeated calls for Park to express "her firm will to overhaul the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and to apologize" for allegations that it tried to influence last year's presidential election.

Stressing that his party is "the only entity that can win a victory in a fight against Park's reign of terror," he vowed to correct the wrongful situation.

"We will further strengthen our campaign outside the parliament. From the tents in the City Hall square, we will strive to spread our fighting spirit nationwide in order to restore democracy and revive the people's livelihoods," he said.

The party took to the streets last month and set up a temporary office in tents outside Seoul City Hall, central Seoul, demanding Park overhaul the spy agency.

Earlier this week, it vowed to go all-out in its campaign to reform the NIS, continuing its outdoor protests while launching a full-scale participation in parliamentary affairs.

"South Korea is now standing at a crossroads in terms of its journey for democracy," Kim said. "Authority will not triumph over the people."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/yonhap-news-agency/130927/opposition-party-chief-slams-park-curtailed-pension-promis-0