Choi knew of top-secret appointments in advance

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Choi knew of top-secret appointments in advance

Among the 180 Blue House documents leaked to a controversial friend of President Park Geun-hye were dozens of confidential records concerning presidential summits and appointment plans for top government posts, including the director of the National Intelligence Service, the prosecution’s findings showed.

The prosecution’s special investigation team on Sunday indicted Jeong Ho-seong, Park’s former personal secretary at the Blue House, on charges of leaking confidential information obtained during his public duty.

According to the indictment, Jeong leaked 180 Blue House documents to Choi Soon-sil, Park’s longtime friend, who was also indicted on charges of abuse of power and coercion on the same day. Choi was accused of coercing 53 companies to pay 77.4 billion won ($65.76 million) to nonprofit foundations that she operated and used as a slush fund.

In its indictment against Jeong, the prosecution made it clear that he acted “in collusion with the president.” From January 2013 to last April, Jeong delivered a total of 180 documents to Choi, 47 of which were classified.

The investigators confiscated mobile phones from Jeong that included recorded conservations in which Park specifically ordered Jeong to send the documents to Choi for feedback. According to the prosecution, Jeong then gave Choi files containing information on the appointments of the head of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and head of the Financial Services Commission in March and April 2013.

Personnel files of the head of the Board of Audit and Inspection, minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning and head of the Cultural Heritage Administration were also offered.

More details of the leaked documents were reported by the Dong-A Ilbo on Monday. It said Choi received the organization chart of the administration on the day of Park’s presidential inauguration on Feb. 25, 2013. She also received the lists of candidates for the prime minister and the NIS head on the same day, the newspaper said.

In the next month, Choi was offered lists of 21 vice minister candidates. Candidates for the Board of Audit and Inspection head and the prosecutor-general were also given to Choi, the newspaper said, adding that “it was clear that Choi influenced the personnel appointments of the Park administration, although it was not revealed why the president offered the information to her.”

Choi also confirmed the plan for the Blue House secretariat reshuffle on Aug. 4, 2013, Munhwa Ilbo said. Of the 47 secret documents leaked to Choi, more than 10 concern appointments, it said.

Other confidential information leaked to Choi covered sensitive diplomatic issues. Park allowed Choi to receive plans to hold summits with counterparts of major countries.

According to the Dong-A Ilbo report, the plan to hold a summit with U.S. President Barack Obama in May 2013 was leaked to Choi.

It was Park’s first presidential summit with a foreign leader, and Choi received it on March 8, two months ahead of the actual event, the newspaper said. The summit plan was designated as a level-III secret at the Foreign Ministry.

Choi also received four other plans for presidential trips, including those to Europe and Middle East.

Jeong also provided Choi the records of Park’s meetings with world leaders, the newspaper said. According to the report, Choi received a report on March 6, 2013, about Park’s telephone conversation with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other reports on Korea-Japan-China summit plan and Korea-Japan pending issues.

The Park-Abe contact took place on the same day, and the information was offered immediately after it was finished, the report said.

Park’s meeting plans and conversations with UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon were leaked particularly frequently, the newspaper said. Park loyalists have long expressed their hope that Ban will run as their presidential candidate after he finishes his tenure at the United Nations at the end of this year.

A top-secret document on North Korea’s nuclear development was also among the leaked files, the newspaper said.

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

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