Park Visits Daegu Stronghold in Bid for Support

  • By Jung Nok-yong

    December 02, 2016 11:55

    President Park Geun-hye made a sudden visit to a burnt-out market in her Daegu stronghold on Thursday afternoon in a last-ditch bid to shore up some political support. It was the first time she has emerged from her office in more than a month as a massive influence-peddling and corruption scandal engulfed her.

    Park arrived at Seomun Market, which was engulfed by flames on Wednesday, at 1:30 p.m. and was shown around by the head of the traders' association as she inspected the damage.

    Park has often visited the market when she was in political trouble to bask in the warm glow of the traders' support.

    President Park Geun-hye is surrounded by bodyguards as she visits Seomun Market in Daegu on Thursday. /Yonhap

    But on Thursday the atmosphere was decidedly chilly. There was no applause or cheers, and at the entrance to the market, the local chapter of the progressive group People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy held a silent protest demanding her ouster.

    Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Jung Youn-kuk said Park wept on her way back to Cheong Wa Dae.

    Park tried to dodge the media by arriving an hour and a half earlier than originally scheduled. "Under the current circumstances, I thought hard about whether it would be okay for me to come here," Jung quoted her as saying. "But I came here as I thought it is the right thing to do when you, who have supported me, are in anguish due to the unexpected fire."

    But Park spent little time talking to the traders as she surveyed the symbolic ruins of her presidency.

    Meanwhile, the president is once again digging in her heels over calls to announce a definite schedule for her resignation. Cheong Wa Dae on Thursday reiterated that the president wants to follow the decision of the National Assembly.

    "The president has already given the National Assembly a free hand. We can only wait until the ruling and opposition parties reach agreement according to the proper legal procedures," one Cheong Wa Dae spokesman said.

    Park's announcement Tuesday that she will leave the timing to lawmakers has sparked suspicions that her advisers are stalling for time as the political parties are likely to disagree and drag out the process.

    Since her typically vague and convoluted address, lawmakers have been bickering over the timing of her exit. The Saenuri Party is pushing for the president to resign in April and early presidential elections in June. Saenuri lawmakers who do not support Park and hold the key to impeachment agree, but the opposition now wants either her intermediate ouster or impeachment to score a moral victory.

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