DP demands apology from president at Monday summit

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DP demands apology from president at Monday summit

The Democratic Party accepted a proposal from President Park Geun-hye for a three-way political leaders’ summit, but the largest opposition party demanded a discussion of reforms of the nation’s spy agency and an apology from the president.

“We will accept the proposal for the trilateral talks with the president and the ruling party leader made by the Blue House,” DP Chairman Kim Han-gill said at a meeting with senior party members yesterday, “because I think the content of a meeting is more important than the form.”

The DP agreed on Park’s suggestion to hold the talks at the National Assembly on Monday. The exact time was not scheduled.

Kim stressed the agenda should be dominated by the National Intelligence Service and its alleged meddling in last year’s presidential election on Park’s behalf.

“The meeting should guarantee the president’s strong will for restoring democracy, including the reform of the NIS,” Kim said.

On Thursday, President Park proposed a three-way meeting with herself and the leaders of the ruling Saenuri Party and opposition Democratic Party, promising to discuss “all the current affairs that both the ruling and the opposition parties want.”

Park appears to have broken a political stalemate that has paralyzed the National Assembly. The DP has walked away from parliamentary business to hold an ongoing protest in front of Seoul City Hall against the ruling party’s shrugging off of the NIS scandal.

The NIS is accused of running an online smear campaign against Park’s opponent in last year’s election, but a National Assembly investigation of the scandal made no progress, infuriating the opposition.

The ruling Saenuri Party has said that although the alleged smear campaign was designed to benefit Park’s campaign, the NIS was under former President Lee Myung-bak’s administration at the time.

The DP’s Kim said yesterday that although Park may not have ordered the online campaign by the NIS, she should issue an apology.

“This doesn’t mean that Park should apologize for directing [the campaign] as the presidential candidate,” Kim said. “It means it is important for her to show her will to wrap up the previous period and move toward a new era. To do so, she should issue an apology for the current crisis of democracy.”

Former President Lee held three one-on-one meetings with the head of the opposition, and Roh Moo-hyun held two, including one with Park, who headed the Grand National Party. But at those bilateral talks, the presidents and the opposition leaders failed to reach agreement on many things.

DP Chairman Kim Han-gill’s father, Kim Cheol, was a democracy activist against the rule of Park’s father President Park Chung Hee. He was also chairman of the then-opposition Unification Society Party.

Park and Kim have had a face-to-face meeting before. In June 1999, when Kim was a renowned best-selling novelist and host of a TV talk show, Park appeared on the show as a guest to promote a book of essays.

On that show, Kim told Park, “When you were in the Blue House as a family member [of Park Chung Hee], I visited my father, who was jailed because of one of your father’s emergency decrees.

“Still, it was a good thing to have a nice talk with you for an hour,” Kim added.

Ahead of the upcoming meeting between Park, Kim and Saenuri Party Chairman Hwang Woo-yea, a local court yesterday acquitted Kim’s father of all criminal convictions from the Park Chung Hee days. Kim Cheol died in 1994.

The Seoul High Court yesterday acquitted Kim Cheol of a conviction in 1976 for violating the national security law and emergency decree No. 9. Kim was sentenced to two years in jail, which he served.

Decree No. 9 of May 1975 forbade people from political activities or criticizing the government and allowed the president to shut down media companies, expel students and dismiss government officials critical of the government. In March, the Constitutional Court ruled three presidential decrees - 1, 2 and 9 - unconstitutional.

DP head Kim attended the trial and heard the verdict yesterday.

BY KIM HEE-JIN [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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