Chief of staff must step forward
President Park Geun-hye was furious over the controversy involving her former and current aides, saying it is “shameful” that the country is being rocked by groundless rumors. She lamented about the wasteful dispute over snowballing allegations about her former and incumbent aides meddling in state affairs during a lunch meeting with leaders of the ruling Saenuri Party. Her response to the incident is worrisome. She should have started by apologizing for the scandal that her aides and former ministers have caused.
She said that the situation would be clarified by the prosecution’s investigation. But the case cannot simply disappear after an investigation or because of the president’s words. The leaked information does look like a compilation of various rumors. But still it is suspicious why everyone mentioned in the confidential document drawn up by officials of the presidential office had already resigned, except for Kim Ki-choon, the chief of staff. The internal report was written by the Office of the Presidential Secretary for Civil Service Discipline. It centered on Chung Yoon-hoi, the personal secretary to the president while she was a lawmaker, his dubious relationship with presidential secretaries and how they collectively pulled strings to secure appointments and were involved in other state affairs. The controversy took another twist after Yoon Jin-ryong, a former minister of culture, sports, and tourism, said that the president had ordered the dismissal of two senior sports officials. The officials were reportedly demoted because they led a probe into the alleged preferential treatment of Chung’s daughter, who was selected as a national equestrian champion.
A poll showed that 62.7 percent of the population believes there is truth in the allegations about the secret power group. The presidential office is underestimating the public if they think people will believe its flat denial. Yet the president merely repeats that she has nothing to hide.
The Blue House must clear the matter regardless of the investigation. Since he is deeply involved in the controversy, Kim should explain the matter himself. Kim was one of the first that Chung tried to oust from the presidential office and he allegedly has turned a blind eye to the leak of the document. He must answer for the entire incident.
President Park has been confident in her personal charm and diplomatic skills. But she must realize that she is in danger of losing public confidence for good. She still has more than half of her term left. If she loses public support, none of her reforms can be pushed ahead. The chief of staff must step forward. JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 8, Page 30