Irked Blue House vows legal action

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Irked Blue House vows legal action

The Blue House said Friday it will take legal action against a newspaper for reporting that Chung Yoon-hoi, a former aide to the president, has attempted to influence state affairs.

“The report of the Segye Ilbo is not true,” said Blue House spokesman Min Kyung-wook.

“The report is nothing more than a compilation of rumors.”

Min said the Blue House will file a petition with the prosecution to investigate those involved in the article, including the reporters.

In its Friday edition, the newspaper ran an exclusive report alleging that Chung, President Park Geun-hye’s chief of staff when she was a lawmaker, had routinely met with and tried to influence Blue House secretaries.

Chung, 59, has been alleged to be the heavyweight in Park’s inner circle, according to the report.

The newspaper quoted an internal Blue House report dated Jan. 6 as the source for the story.

The document, created by the Office of the Presidential Secretary for Civil Service Discipline, said Lee Jae-man, the presidential secretary for administrative affairs, and Jeong Ho-seong and Ahn Bong-geun, personal secretaries to the president, met with Chung regularly and briefed him about the affairs of the presidential office.

“While the three secretaries acted as if they were key confidants of President Park, they were actually serving Chung,” the newspaper said.

Chung and the three secretaries were aides to Park when she entered politics in 1998. The three Blue House officials often were referred to as the “three doorknobs” that offered access to the president.

According to the newspaper, the Office of the Presidential Secretary for Civil Service Discipline started to pay attention to the three presidential secretaries after an information leak was alleged in October 2013. An internal probe revealed Chung was collecting information and had discussed state affairs, including the possible retirement of a top government official, the newspaper said.

The newspaper also said Chung met twice a month with six Blue House officials, including the three secretaries, starting in October last year, quoting the Blue House document.

According to the Segye Ilbo, recent rumors that the president’s chief of staff, Kim Ki-choon, would resign also started from them.

During his meeting with the Blue House aides at the end of last year, Chung told them that he planned for Kim to retire by the middle of this year and directed them to spread rumors to that effect, the newspaper quoted the document as saying.

The newspaper also alleged that Chung meddled in prosecution appointments.

Quoting the Blue House document, the Segye Ilbo said Chung told the presidential aides, “I will make [Kim] resign after I finish disciplining the prosecution.”

The remarks also were made at the year-end meeting, and Prosecutor General Kim Jin-tae, after he assumed office in December, carried out a large reshuffle.

Blue House spokesman Min admitted the presidential office had created an internal document with similar content, but it was not an official report intended for the formal reporting channel. Min said Chief of Staff Kim had received a briefing of the contents.

Min, however, said the Blue House secretaries who were mentioned in the document denied the allegations.

“We’ve checked with them, and they said they have not even been to the places of the alleged meetings,” he said. “So the Blue House did not hand down any measures to them.”

While the ruling Saenuri Party had no official response to the news report, the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy held an emergency meeting Friday and demanded an investigation by the National Assembly.

The party also formed its own investigation team to look into the allegations and asked the National Assembly’s Steering Committee, which oversees affairs with the presidential office, to schedule a meeting.

BY SER MYO-JA, HUH JIN [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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