Park Sues Reporter Over Blacklist

  • By Jung Nok-yong

    January 23, 2017 12:51

    President Park Geun-hye's lawyers on Saturday denied media reports that the president ordered officials to draw up a blacklist of "hostile" artists.

    The denial came a day after former presidential chief of staff Kim Ki-choon, an ancient retainer to the Park family, was arrested for ordering the compilation of the list of nearly 10,000 artists and entertainers.

    Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Cho Yoon-sun was also arrested for aiding and abetting him when she was a Cheong Wa Dae secretary and of lying about it under oath in the National Assembly.

    But in another bizarre twist to the snowballing scandal, Park urged the press to report only "verified facts" and decided to sue a member of the independent counsel's team who leaked the charges and a journalist who said the blacklist was drawn up "at the instructions of the president."

    Park's lawyer Hwang Seong-wook in a text message to reporters appeared to deny that the blacklist even existed, even though Cho has admitted it.

    Former presidential chief of staff Kim Ki-choon (left) and Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Cho Yoon-sun appear for a questioning by the independent counsel in Seoul on Sunday.

    Hwang claimed Park "never instructed anyone to compile the so-called blacklist as mentioned by the independent counsel."

    Hwang added, "We have decided to file a compensatory lawsuit for defamation and publication of false information against the Joongang Ilbo reporter who wrote the article accusing the president of ordering the creation of a blacklist a month after the [2014] ferry disaster as well as the member of the independent counsel's team who tipped the reporter off."

    Public criticism of Park intensified after the ferry disaster, when many accused her of inaction as she was nowhere to be found for seven hours while the ferry sank with more than 300 people aboard.

    The blacklist seems to have been drawn up in response, and official attempts to suppress criticism spawned a number of éclats on the arts and movie festival circuit at the time as organizers caved in.

    Hwang said, "We urge the factions that have made it a habit of publishing false information under the shadow of anonymity to stop manipulating public opinion and also request the news media to report only verified facts."

    A Cheong Wa Dae official said Park "met with her lawyers on Saturday and decided to pursue a strong response."

    In a meeting with journalists on Jan. 1, Park also denied all knowledge of a blacklist. 

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