[top10]Power struggle erupts at the Blue House

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[top10]Power struggle erupts at the Blue House

The biggest political scandal of the Park Geun-hye administration is far from over and points to a power struggle behind Blue House doors between an old confidante of the president and her own brother.

An internal Blue House report dated Jan. 6, 2014, was leaked to a local daily in November saying that the president’s top aide from more than a decade ago, Chung Yoon-hoi, had been pulling strings in back-room maneuvers at the presidential office.

The document said Chung, who served as Park’s secretary and chief of staff from 1998 until 2004, discussed state affairs with 10 presidential aides including three secretaries at the Blue House. One of their plots, the report said, was to replace Kim Ki-choon, the president’s chief of staff.

But the official who ordered the writing of the report, presidential secretary for civil service discipline Cho Eung-cheon, was revealed to be connected to the president’s younger brother, Park Ji-man. The report and its eventual leaking may have been an attempt to quash Chung’s influence by the brother.

The senior police officer who authored the report, Park Gwan-cheon, was arrested and one of two police officers accused of leaking it committed suicide, leaving a 14-page note blaming pressure over the scandal.

President Park dismissed the confidential internal document as “mere jjirasi,” a Japanese word referring to loose gossip. The policeman’s suicide made that dismissal hard to credit and the scandal dragged her approval ratings to an all-time low of 37 percent in the third week of December.

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