Blue House condemns Park’s statement

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Blue House condemns Park’s statement

A presidential spokesman yesterday demanded that Grand National Party Representative Park Geun-hye apologize for insulting the president by comparing him to a burglar.

Park and her aides, however, refused to apologize, arguing that she had done nothing wrong.

The whole blowup began two days earlier when President Lee Myung-bak said that a family fight ends when a burglar enters the home.

Park initially responded by asking what would happen if someone in the family was a burglar himself.

The two have been feuding over Lee’s plan to change the blueprint of Sejong City.

The presidential office believes that Park was likening the president to a burglar because he had changed his position on the new city, and it defended yesterday the president’s original use of the burglar imagery.

“President Lee Myung-bak used the metaphor of a burglar many times to emphasize the harmony inside the Grand National Party when he toured the nation after the presidential primary [in 2007],” said Lee Dong-kwan, senior public affairs secretary of the Blue House. “I have heard it more than 10 times. Why do you think it is aimed at Representative Park? Are we still having a presidential primary?”

Park, one of the most likely contenders for the 2012 presidential nomination, was also Lee’s rival during the 2007 Grand National Party presidential primary.

Blue House spokesman Lee demanded that Park apologize for her “irresponsible” attitude.

“She later learned that there was a misunderstanding and then said her remarks were not aimed at anyone in particular,” Lee said. “That’s not a responsible attitude. We demand a proper explanation and official action by Park.

“If you did something wrong, you should apologize,” Lee said, adding that “the person who had made the remark must do so.”

“She tried to talk herself out of trouble by speaking ambiguously after having insulted the hard-working president without checking on the truth. That’s inappropriate, unreasonable and absurd,” he continued emotionally.

He also complained that it is impossible to have dialogue with Park because of her obstinacy.

The feud between the Blue House and Park began with President Lee’s remarks made Tuesday to urge North Chungcheong officials to work harder in light of the global economic crisis.

“It is a global war, and we must unite to compete globally and win,” Lee said at the time. “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.”

Some local media interpreted that Lee’s “burglar” remark was targeted at Park because of her 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 disapproved of a metaphor the next day. “[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?”

Later in the evening of Wednesday, Park clarified her position through a confidant. “What I said about the burglar was just general thinking, and I did not mean to specify anyone in particular,” Park was quoted as saying by Representative Lee Jung-hyun.

Following the Blue House’s demand for her apology, Park made it clear that she wouldn’t budge.

“If there is a problem with what I had said, just leave it as it is,” Park was quoted as saying by Representative Lee, a confidant.

Representative Lee also elaborated on Park’s stance. “The Blue House had explained that the [burglar] remark was not aimed at Park, and I had also explained that Park did not target anyone specifically, including the president, when she talked about the burglar,” Lee said. “So, what’s wrong with Park’s remarks?”

He also said there is no reason for Park to apologize. Another Park aide reacted in a less confrontational manner. “The confusion took place because aides to Park failed to promptly inform her about what really went on,” said Representative Hong Sa-duk, a six-term lawmaker who supports Park. “I feel sorry for the president.”

Making the already complex political altercation surrounding the “burglar” metaphor worse, Prime Minister Chung Un-chan also jumped into the quarrel. In his meeting with journalists, Chung said “it is unimaginable to think that a family member would suddenly turn into a burglar.”

Chung’s comment, in turn, further enraged the Park camp.

“We explained that she did not mean a specific person, but suddenly the prime minister jumped into the wrangling,” said Representative Lee.

By Ser Myo-ja []

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