Clarify the rumors

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Clarify the rumors

Secret inner circle meddling in state affairs has been exposed in a newspaper report. The report quoted an internal Blue House document compiled by the Office of the Presidential Secretary for Civil Service Discipline in January. According to the report, Chung Yoon-hoi, a former chief secretary to President Park Geun-hye when she was a lawmaker, routinely met with Blue House secretaries and discussed state affairs. The secretaries included Lee Jae-man, presidential secretary for administrative affairs, Jeong Ho-seong and Ahn Bong-geun, personal secretaries to the president. Chung and the three secretaries worked closely with Park when she first entered politics in 1998. The three secretaries were referred to as “the three doorknobs” because people had to go through them first to meet with Park.

The Blue House vowed to take legal action against the newspaper for reporting on what it called “a compilation of groundless rumors.” But the issue cannot be dismissed that lightly. There have been rumors that Chung who, despite having no public service status, wields enormous influence over state affairs. Chung also came under scrutiny for keeping tabs on the president’s younger brother Park Ji-man in the days when Chung was serving as a secretary for Park. His name was frequently mentioned as a person who made trouble for legitimate members of the Blue House. The “doorknob” circle was accused of interfering to block unwanted appointments in the early days of the president’s term.

The presidential office denied the rumors every time they were raised. But the fact that the presidential office also investigated the matter implies that the Blue House was well aware of the existence of the behind the scenes power wielder. The officials who investigated the matter and drew up the report were dismissed from their Blue House jobs after submitting their findings, augmenting the suspicion that there could have been truth to the rumors.

The report said Chung and the presidential aides discussed spreading rumors to oust presidential chief of staff Kim Ki-choon. If this had been true, they undoubtedly violated laws and should be punished. If the rumors are not clarified, the president will be under suspicion. The Blue House must order a transparent fact-finding probe immediately.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 29, Page 34

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