President’s Chuseok was all work, no relatives

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President’s Chuseok was all work, no relatives


Park Geun-hye didn’t meet any relatives during her second Chuseok holiday as president but instead spent time contemplating the Blue House’s next moves amid ongoing parliamentary paralysis over the special Sewol law.

“Though Park visited the Seoul National Cemetery, the Blue House decided not to reveal the specifics of her visit as it is an unofficial presidential schedule,” said a Blue House official who asked for anonymity.

According to the official, the country’s first woman president paid respects at the graves of her parents, former military strongman Park Chung Hee and former first lady Yuk Young-soo, both laid to rest at the Seoul National Cemetery in southern Seoul. The Blue House did not disclose the exact timing of her visit.

Park was accompanied by secret service agents. Her younger sister and brother, Park Geun-ryeong and Park Chi-man, did not join her in paying tribute to their parents.

Park lost both of her parents in assassinations. Her mother was killed during a Liberation Day ceremony in 1974 by a Japan-born, pro-Pyongyang Korean assassin, who mistakenly shot the first lady instead of the president.

Five years later, the former president was killed by Kim Jae-kyu, his long-time subordinate who was at the time the head of the intelligence agency during a dinner.

The 62-year-old unmarried president spent the holidays reading reports submitted by Blue House staff and contemplating her next policy drives, especially to revive the economy, but did not invite her siblings to the presidential residence, according to sources with the Blue House.

“Former presidents spent time together with their relatives during the holidays,” said an official of the ruling Saenuri Party, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The official added, “Park has spent the holidays alone since she took office” because she didn’t want to encourage “rumors about her relatives” and their relationship with her.

Park’s wariness appears to stem from trouble caused by some of her predecessors by their relatives. Former presidents Kim Young-sam and Kim Dae-jung had to deliver apologies to the nation for crimes their sons had committed during their five-year presidencies. Former President Lee Myung-bak also had to apologize for his elder brother Lee Sang-deuk, who was indicted for taking bribes.

“Park is really stern in managing her family members,” said the party official.


BY KANG JIN-KYU, SHIN YONG-HO [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]


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