Park to stay at home during holidays

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Park to stay at home during holidays

President Park Geun-hye will spend five days at her residence in the Blue House on her summer holidays, forgoing domestic or international travel, the presidential office said yesterday.

According to the Blue House, Park will not leave the presidential office this summer on her holidays out of respect for the public, which continues to mourn the lives lost in the Sewol ferry tragedy.

Last summer, Park took a two-day trip to Jeo Island, a southeastern island in South Gyeongsang.

She stayed on the island for one night and posted photographs of herself wearing sunglasses and a long tight skirt as she spent time on the beach.

The rare and unusual post, which she self-titled “Jeo Island in my memory,” drew widespread media attention.

This year, however, the president is planning to spend her vacation at home, particularly considering the disaster and the fact that the July 30 by-elections are just days away.

As public criticism mounts over authorities’ belated discovery of the body of Yoo Byung-eun, the fugitive businessman who was the de facto owner of the Sewol ferry, Park’s approval ratings have hit an all-time low since her inauguration, at 40 percent, according to a poll released Friday by Gallup Korea.

The percentage of respondents who answered negatively concerning the president’s policy-making was the highest ever, according to the survey, at 50 percent.

Now, all eyes are on whether she will carry out a reshuffle of the prosecution and police in response to public backlash.

The outcome of the July 30 by-elections will also be critical for Park. How many seats the ruling Saenuri Party could potentially win is expected to affect her policy-making decisions for the rest of the year.

However, while the president will remain in her official residence, she did encourage other Blue House staff and government officials to take their holidays as usual to boost the domestic economy.

According to the Blue House, about half the staff at the presidential office are scheduled to take leave, including Kim Ki-choon, the chief of staff, and Yoon Doo-hyun, the senior presidential secretary for public affairs.

Cho Yoon-sun, senior secretary for political affairs, is the highest-ranking Blue House official who is slated to stay behind.

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




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