SEOUL, Jan. 25 (Yonhap) -- Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn's aide on Wednesday expressed displeasure over the political interpretation of his activities as an interim leader, calling it "excessive."
His remarks came amid speculation, mostly from opposition politicians, that Hwang, seen as a possible conservative contender in this year's presidential race, is using his position to boost his political profile.
"The government thinks that it is excessive to politically interpret (Hwang's) policy efforts and activities to take care of people's livelihoods," Hwang's aide told reporters, declining to be named.
"His activities are aimed at finding what the government can do to better support citizens in need and let them know (about government policies)," he added.
Amid the growing talk of Hwang running in the presidential election, opposition parties have stepped up their offense, calling for his full attention to the task of normalizing state affairs that have been hamstrung by the alleged corruption scandal involving President Park Geun-hye and her close confidante.
"There are rumors that Acting President Hwang is eyeing a run in the presidential election in the midst of the economic challenges facing our nation. I hope they are not true," Choo Mi-ae, the leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, said during a meeting of senior party officials.
"(Hwang) must fully devote himself to forestall any leadership vacuum amid economic, security and diplomatic challenges."
During a parliamentary session last month, Hwang rejected the idea of a presidential run. But with his approval rating growing, he has become ambiguous, saying that "for now" he would focus on state affairs.
Since he took over as the acting president on Dec. 9 following the presidential impeachment, Hwang has swiftly taken control of economic, security, diplomatic and social policies. He has engaged in a flurry of activities to connect with ordinary citizens as well as rank-and-file civil servants.
Meanwhile, Hwang ordered Cabinet ministers to stay fully prepared to carry out special public safety measures during the four-day Lunar New Year holiday that begins on Friday.
He said that the government, in tandem with provincial authorities, will employ a 24-hour work system to take care of public safety issues, and it will run an emergency medical treatment program during the holiday.
"During the holiday, the possibility of traffic accidents is high, and there are concerns about various accidents and crimes. The government needs to be fully ready for all possibilities," Hwang said during a meeting of top officials on public safety.