Tell the truthPresident Park Geun-hye replaced controversial secretaries — Woo Byung-woo, senior secretary for civil affairs, Ahn Chong-bum, senior secretary for policy coordination, and Kim Sung-woo, senior secretary for public affairs — amid allegations about their roles in assisting the president’s longtime friend in exercising influence over state affairs. Her personal aides — Lee Jae-man, Jeong Ho-seong, and Ahn Bong-geun — dubbed as “doorknobs” to the president because of their influence over her, were also kicked out.
The president hurriedly accepted their resignations and rushed them out after long protecting them as public uproar reached the point of national protests.
Now free of any public office protections, the senior secretaries, as well as the three aides, must comply with the prosecution probe. Woo must answer to his mishandling of people close to the president as well as a number of personal irregularities, such as the questionable real estate deals of his wife’s family. Woo must be investigated, as he could hamper the prosecution’s probe.
Ahn Chong-bum is accused of having been deeply involved in creating the two nonprofit organizations for Choi to raise funds for the president, and Jeong is reported to have delivered presidential files to Choi. If their punishment ends in dismissal from office, public anger will not subside.
The president herself must fully cooperate with the investigations. She must tell prosecutors to question her first. What must be determined is whether the president shared confidential state information with her friend, gave her liberty to meddle in state affairs and condoned her influence-peddling. Park already made a public apology and partly admitted Choi’s involvement in state affairs. The heart of the scandal therefore lies more with the president than Choi.
The Blue House resisted complying with the prosecution’s demand for a raid. It disallowed prosecutors from searching the offices of Ahn and Jeong upon finding that the documents the presidential office handed in had been lacking. That raises strong suspicions as to whether the president is really aware of the gravity of the situation and has the will to address it. The president must allow prosecutors full access to her office and invite them for face-to-face questioning.
Most of all, the president must stand before the people, tell the truth about her relationship with Choi and plead for forgiveness. She is fast losing public confidence after remaining secretive and lacking in remorse. She must call for an unscripted press conference immediately.
JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 31, Page 30
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