Park accepts resignation of alleged leaker Lee

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Park accepts resignation of alleged leaker Lee

President Park Geun-hye has accepted the resignation of a beleaguered special inspector in charge of investigating top presidential aides, following his recent battle against the Blue House.

Lee Seok-su, appointed last year by Park as the first independent inspector general to operate a new anticorruption system against top Blue House aides and the presidential family, submitted his resignation on Aug. 29 after he faced a prosecution’s probe into an alleged leak of details in his investigation. Park, however, delayed accepting the inspector’s resignation.

According to the Blue House, Park formally accepted the resignation around 3 p.m. on Friday. The Blue House notified the press late Friday night about the decision.

Last month, the Blue House launched extraordinarily strong attacks against Lee, accusing him for having leaked information regarding his probe into Woo Byung-woo, senior presidential civil affairs secretary. Lee concluded that the prosecution would have to take over and question Woo on charges of embezzlement and abuse of power.

The prosecution launched two separate probes into Woo and Lee. As he faced the prosecutors’ probe, Lee submitted his resignation. Woo, however, stayed in his job.

Speculations grew over the weekend over why Park decided to accept Lee’s resignation after nearly a month.

“Lee was supposed to testify at the Legislation and Judiciary Committee audit on the government as a witness on Sept. 30,” said Rep. Keum Tae-sup of the Minjoo Party of Korea. “Park abruptly decided to accept the resignation in order to stop him from testifying.”

Keum, the spokesman of the main opposition party, said Lee showed intention to lay bare everything he knew at the hearing. “The Blue House’s behavior is outrageous,” he said.

After the resignation, Lee is no longer a public servant, and the ruling and opposition parties will need to consult again to call him as a witness.
The Blue House, however, dismissed the criticism. “Even if Lee attends the audit with the special inspector title, he cannot disclose the contents of his inspection under the current laws,” a Blue House official said. “It is absurd for the opposition parties to link the two issues.”

Another Minjoo lawmaker, Rep. So Byung-hoon, raised a new suspicion. He said the Blue House appeared to have decided to get rid of Lee as he has started an investigation into another top presidential aide.

According to So, Lee launched a probe into the allegations that An Chong-bum, presidential senior secretary for policy coordination, had strong-armed the Federation of Korean Industries and conglomerates to make massive contributions to two newly established cultural foundations. Both foundations have been linked to Park’s friend Choi Sun-sil.


BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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