Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn on Tuesday turned down senior presidential aides' resignation offers, citing the need to address urgent security and economic issues facing the nation.
On Monday, Chief of Staff Han Kwang-ok, chief national security adviser Kim Kwan-jin, the presidential security chief and nine senior secretaries offered their resignations en masse to take responsibility for the ouster of President Park Geun-hye over a corruption scandal last week.
Hwang rejected the offers to "ensure no gaps in the running of state affairs and to resolve urgent pending issues in consideration of the grave national security and economic situations," an official representing him said in a press briefing at the government complex in Seoul.
The acting president is expected to keep the current lineup until South Korea picks a new president in an early election triggered by Park's impeachment. Many think the poll will take place on May 9 as the law requires it be held within 60 days of a president's removal.
Hwang's decision sends a message that he will focus on stably managing state affairs at a time when the country faces rising economic and political challenges including China's economic retaliations over the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in South Korea and North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.
The presidential officials will also be responsible for handling the transfer of presidential records to the state archives and preparing the transition of the incoming administration, which will take office without a formal transition period.
Hwang instructed the Cabinet to do all it can to ensure a fair and smooth election.
Speaking at a Cabinet meeting, he also called on the prosecution and the police to thoroughly crack down on such illegal electioneering as smear campaigns against rival candidates and illegal mobilization of campaign workers.
"The presidential impeachment is causing increasing internal division and conflict," he said. "It is more important than anything to stably manage state affairs to mitigate the difficulties."
Hwang recalled that three pro-Park protesters died in violent clashes while rallying against her dismissal.
"Actions threatening the social order are gradually subsiding," he said. "Each department should continue to do its best to stabilize state affairs to maintain international creditworthiness and reassure the people."
The acting president stressed the importance of maintaining a strong security posture while pushing to revive the economy and attend to public livelihood issues.
He addressed the issue of increasing spending on private education, saying it must be resolved to lessen the burden on households and ensure the inequalities of income gaps are not passed down across generations.
"In order for public education to substitute and absorb the demand for private education, after-school activities and elementary school care programs must be run effectively," he said. "We must strengthen guidelines and crackdowns on various illegal and expedient activities that encourage private education and advance studies." (Yonhap)