Park Apologizes for Cronyism Scandal

  • By Jung Nok-yong

    October 26, 2016 09:35

    President Park Geun-hye briefly apologized to the nation on Tuesday for letting a crony at the heart of a growing corruption scandal edit some of her key speeches.

    "Regardless of the reasons involved, I am sorry that it has caused national concerns," Park said in a two-minute statement at Cheong Wa Dae. "I deeply apologize to the people."

    Choi Soon-sil has no official government position and is suspected of trading on her closeness to the president in trying to finance nonprofit organizations and of influencing policy from the wings.

    But Park sought to downplay Choi's influence. "During the last presidential election campaign, [Choi] offered me personal comments about my campaign activities, mostly speeches and publicity efforts," she said.

    "For some period of time after my inauguration, I had asked for her opinion over some materials, but after the secretarial staff at Cheong Wa Dae was fully established, I stopped."

    President Park Geun-hye bows in apology at Cheong Wa Dae on Tuesday.

    Park, who is often accused of ruling from the center of a clique of cronies rather than embracing modern democratic process, did not go into more details on the extent of Choi's help or exactly when she stopped asking her for advice. She took no questions from reporters.

    Choi is the daughter of Park's late mentor Choi Tae-min and ex-wife of her former secretary Chung Yun-hoi. She fled Korea with her daughter as the scandal started unfolding and is reportedly in Germany.

    Meanwhile, opposition lawmakers said Park's apology lacked sincerity and was nothing but excuses, and called for a thorough investigation with a view to possible impeachment.

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