Moon Chang-keuk, South Korea’s prime minister-nominee, was forced to withdraw from consideration Tuesday over criticism following a speech in which he reportedly made remarks downplaying Japan's occupation of Korea.
Moon, who is the second candidate picked by President Park Geun-hye to withdraw his nomination, after the current prime minister offered to resign after taking responsibility for the deadly Sewol ferry sinking in April that claimed the lives of at least 300 people, reportedly said during a televised news conference that he is not pro-Japan and is voluntarily withdrawing from consideration.
"I wanted to help President Park Geun-Hye. But I believe that my resignation is the way to help her at this point," Moon told a press conference, according to Agence France-Presse.
The 65-year-old former journalist, who has reportedly made controversial remarks in past speeches, came under fire earlier this month after public broadcaster KBS showed footage of Moon making comments about Japanese colonial rule where he said that Korea's suffering at the hands of imperial Japan was divine will. He publicly apologized for his remarks on June 15.
Moon’s withdrawal from the nomination comes a month after Park's first choice for the prime minister's post, Ahn Dai-hee, a former Supreme Court justice, was forced to withdraw his nomination in May following a controversy reportedly sparked over his inappropriate income after he began a private practice.
“The president has already suffered too much,” Rhee Jong Hoon, a political commentator, told Bloomberg. “She cannot afford another nomination failure. The Moon saga turned into a symbol of her ineffectiveness to deal with problems and vet people.”
Park reportedly said in a statement: "Parliament holds confirmation hearings to help people judge [candidates], so it is regrettable that he was unable to get to the hearing.”
"I hope he will be given an opportunity to correct the wrong information given about him, so that he and the family will not spend the rest of their lives in pain and dishonour."