Retreat from government

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Retreat from government

We are deeply frustrated at the dramatic transformation of President Park Geun-hye into a felon, the first time in the history of Korean democracy that a president has done this. The prosecution on Sunday said the president planned and committed such serious crimes as establishing the suspicious Mi-R Foundation, forcing conglomerates to donate 77.4 billion won ($65.8 million) and leaking the government secrets.

The president also ordered her aides, including her longtime friend, Choi Soon-sil, to carry out the crimes, the prosecution highlighted. Circumstantial evidence strongly suggests that she took the lead in these crimes. The prosecution declared that 99 percent of her charges can be proven. But the president’s reaction to the indictments is dumbfounding. Her spokesperson emphatically denied it all, expressing hope for a speedy resolution of the case in accordance with our constitutional procedures.

We wonder if the president really wants to lead the country to a bigger crisis by denying the results of the prosecution’s month-long probe.

The constitutional procedure she mentioned seems to refer to her impeachment, which may take as long as six months.

If she believes she can regain backing from her power base, that’s sheer nonsense. No citizen with common sense would endorse such a dictatorial leader. Her response is nothing but a profession of her will to hold onto power by taking our government and people as hostage. The president can never fool the people. They want her “orderly retreat” from government rather than a constitutional impeachment. If she turns a deaf ear to the public’s call for her step-down, she will lose the last remaining chance to resign with dignity.

The president said through her spokesman that she will do her best to allow for the smooth administration of government. That sounds like an intention to carry out her role as president until her impeachment. If she were an ordinary civil servant, she would be immediately discharged once she became a suspect. How can the president then command the nation and discuss state matters with other heads of state?

Only one option awaits a president who has lost moral, political and legal authority. Park must sincerely apologize for committing this national crime. At the same time, she must fully cooperate with the prosecution as she promised earlier and deliver all her authority to a new nonpartisan prime minister appointed by the National Assembly for her orderly retreat from government.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 21, Page 30

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