DUP gets claws out for attack on Park Geun-hye

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DUP gets claws out for attack on Park Geun-hye

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Park Geun-hye and Park Jie-won


The Democratic United Party’s attacks against the Saenuri Party’s presidential frontrunner Park Geun-hye have steadily grown fiercer, with the largest opposition party’s floor leader even volunteering for the role of sniper in the months leading to the December presidential election.

The war began earlier this month when Representative Park Jie-won of the DUP accused the conservative political heavyweight of having illicit ties to a key lobbyist allegedly involved in a savings bank scandal.

In the DUP leadership meeting, he claimed that she had met several times with Park Tae-gyu, the lobbyist for the Busan Savings Bank, and that it is necessary for the prosecution to investigate how their meetings influenced the lobbyist’s attempt to rescue the failing bank.

Park Tae-gyu was convicted of receiving 1.7 billion won ($1.4 million) from the bank in return for his lobbying activities toward the Board of Audit and Inspection and the Financial Supervisory Service to save the bank. His appeal is currently ongoing.

Not just Park Jie-won, but the Internet podcast “Naneun Ggomsuda” (“I’m a Petty-Minded Creep”) also made the claim earlier this month that the lobbyist met with Park Geun-hye around November 2010.

Denying the accusations, Park Geun-hye asked the Seoul Central District Court on May 21 to investigate Park Jie-won and the two main hosts of the podcast on charges of defamation.

Three days later, the DUP floor leader asked the prosecution to investigate her two aides for also having spread false rumors that he was actually close to the lobbyist.

After their first round ended in a court battle, the DUP floor leader found a new theme.

On Saturday, Park Jie-won criticized the Saenuri Party’s presidential frontrunner for having been surrounded by a group of extreme conservatives.

“I was told that Park has a ‘7 Man Club,’?” Park Jie-won said. “Each and every one of them is a pigheaded conservative, and they are just unsuitable to run this country.”

The seven Park Jie-won referred to are political veterans who have long supported her presidential bid.

The group, including Kim Yong-hwan, a senior adviser of the Saenuri Party, supported her during her 2007 presidential primary.

Even after her defeat in the primary, their network continued and Park Geun-hye loyalists began calling them the 7 Man Club in 2009.

Most of them had relationships with her father, the late President Park Chung Hee, and she reportedly values their opinions.

Park Jie-won’s criticism irritated the senior politicians. “I have far more experience in politics than him, and how dare he call me a pigheaded conservative?” Kim told the JoongAng Ilbo on Sunday.

Kim also said the so-called 7 Man Club is nothing but a private gathering of likeminded people wishing her success.

“Even if she wins the presidency, none of us will try to wield power,” Kim said.

Through her aide Representative Lee Jung-hyun, Park Geun-hye said Monday that she had never heard of the 7 Man Club.

The explanation did little to deter Park Jie-won from continuing his offensive against her.

“From now on, I will attack only one person,” he declared Monday.

“She is a prominent presidential candidate and she must be scrutinized thoroughly.”

In an interview with the CBS radio yesterday, he also questioned her integrity. “She does have the 7 Man Club and the media are reporting on it,” he said.

“But she said she has never heard of it, so I cannot stop but question her integrity.”

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

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