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Burglar remark heats Lee-Park feud

‘A successful family stops internal fighting when a burglar enters.’

Feb 11,2010
The long-standing feud between President Lee Myung-bak and former Grand National Party Chairwoman Park Geun-hye grew deeper yesterday as Park emotionally disapproved of a metaphor employed by Lee to describe the current global economic situation.

Park met with journalists at the National Assembly yesterday and criticized Lee’s remarks made Tuesday.

“It is a global war, and we must unite to compete globally and win,” Lee said during his meeting with North Chungcheong officials. “A successful family stops internal fighting when a burglar enters the house. They join hands to fight the burglar and then they can go back to their own fight.”

The remarks were interpreted by some local media as targeted at Park because of her persistent opposition to Lee’s attempt to shelve the plan to relocate government offices to Sejong City and build a city focused on science and business instead.

Park, one of the most likely contenders for the 2012 presidential election, was also Lee’s rival during the 2007 presidential primary of the Grand National Party. Park has been known as a tight-lipped politician, but she did not hesitate to counter Lee’s remarks.

“[What Lee said about the burglar] is, of course, right,” Park said. “But, what would you do if one member of the family suddenly changes his mind and becomes a burglar?”

She also appeared upset with what Lee has said about his plan to “support a person who works effectively and well.” The remarks were interpreted as Lee’s vision of his successor.

“The nation will decide who really works effectively and well,” Park said.

After some media interpreted Lee’s Tuesday remarks as being targeted at Park, Blue House spokeswoman Kim Eun-hye tried to calm the situation yesterday morning.

“What Lee said is that an internal conflict or political fight is undesirable because the global economic crisis is not over yet, and a new financial crisis looms in Europe,” Kim said.

Despite Blue House efforts, Park still released her emotions. “The Grand National Party was given the last chance by the people,” Park said. “The party is now seen as betraying its old promise [on Sejong City],” Park said, pausing briefly with watery eyes. “I am embarrassed to face the people.”

“Park appears to have some misunderstanding without realizing Lee’s true intention,” a senior Blue House official said.

Speaking through Representative Lee Jung-hyun, a confidant, Park later clarified that “what I said about the burglar was just general thinking, and I did not mean to specify anyone in particular.”


By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]



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