Doubts remain as Blue House speaks out on leak

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Doubts remain as Blue House speaks out on leak

The presidential office on Tuesday broke its silence on the prosecution’s announcement a day earlier detailing the interim results of its investigation into the leak of an internal Blue House document, saying it had been revealed that a few people with ulterior motives were to blame.

Yoon Doo-hyun, the senior presidential secretary for public relations, made a rare and unexpected visit to the Blue House correspondents’ room, where he had a brief conversation with press members about the scandal.

“Although it is late, I think [the conclusion] is fortunate,” he said. “It’s a shame to think that this incident would not have happened if [Segye Ilbo’s reporters] had conducted a fact-check before releasing the article.”

The Blue House found itself mired in controversy on Nov. 28 following a Segye Ilbo article that reported on the leaked Blue House document. The internal report alleged that Chung Yoon-hoi, a former aide to President Park during her days as a lawmaker, has continued to wield considerable influence, discussing state affairs with a tight 10-member circle that includes three of the president’s secretaries.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office announced on Monday that its monthlong investigation had led authorities to conclude that the leaked document was based on rumors collected by Park Gwan-cheon, a senior police officer formerly seconded to the Office of Secretary for Civil Service Discipline at the Blue House.

The prosecution also announced that over a dozen internal documents were leaked to the media and corporate workers through two channels - Park as well as two other police officers who illegally copied the documents he brought out of the Blue House as he ended his term there in February.

The Blue House did not come up with any statement on the day of the prosecution’s announcement.

The about-face by the Blue House’s communications chief likely stems from rampant criticism that the prosecution’s conclusion deviated little from remarks President Park Geun-hye made on Dec. 7 on the leaked report.

Yoon stressed that the core of the scandal lies in the fact that former officials at the Blue House fabricated and leaked confidential documents “out of personal greed.”

Still, the main opposition and many Korean citizens staunchly argue that the contents of the leaked documents remain a matter that must be verified and dealt with. Despite official statements and denials, Chung’s possible influence remains a point of concern.

BY SEO JI-EUN [spring@joongang.co.kr]




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