|South Korea's Prime Minister nominee Moon Chang-keuk (C) leaves after a televised press conference in Seoul, South Korea, on June 24, 2014. Moon Chang-keuk offered to resign from his candidacy Tuesday, two weeks after being nominated for the government's No. 2 post, amid rising criticism for his past pro-Japanese comments. (Xinhua/Newsis)
SEOUL, June 24 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's Prime Minister nominee Moon Chang-keuk offered to resign from his candidacy Tuesday, two weeks after being nominated for the government's No.2 post, amid rising criticism for his past pro-Japanese comments.
"I thought it would help President Park (for me) to resign at this point. It was her who called me here and it was she who can take me in. I wished to help President Park Geun-hye," Moon said during a nationally televised press conference.
Moon said he had shared Park's policy to achieve national unity and great reform, but he said his nomination led the country into a greater conflict and division. Such situation led him to worry that it could have blocked Park's state operation, he added.
Moon, a former chief editorial writer at the conservative JoongAng Ilbo newspaper, was named by President Park on June 10 to replace the incumbent Prime Minister Chung Hong-won, who has submitted resignation to assume responsibility for the deadly ferry sinking disaster that occurred in mid-April and left more than 300 people dead or missing.
Since the nomination, Moon has been under strong pressures for his past comments. In his speech at a church in 2011, the nominee described the 1910-45 Japanese colonial rule of Korea and the subsequent division into the two Koreas as "God's will."
The remarks outraged many South Koreans who still have a deep resentment against Japan for its reluctance to repent its past atrocities.
Moon also made provocative comments on the "comfort women", or a euphemism for Korean women coerced into sex slavery for the Japanese Imperial Army during the World War II. The nominee reportedly said at a university class earlier this year that South Korea may not necessarily need to demand apology from Japan for the comfort women issue.