An obstinate president

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An obstinate president

The prosecution has once again requested President Park Geun-hye — now a criminal suspect — agree to in-person questioning by Nov. 29. That’s the third time the prosecution has requested she come in. Prosecutors said they set the deadline after considering their investigation schedules, and emphasized the urgent need for the questioning.

The prosecution wants to hand over all the results of its probe into the unprecedented abuse of power involving the president and her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil to an independent counsel after thoroughly investigating Park’s behavior. The prosecution’s second raid of Samsung Group’s Future Strategy Office to obtain concrete evidence of her complicity is also part of its effort to specify charges against the president. The prosecution’s move will surely help the independent counsel grasp the scope and depth of the scandal when it takes charge.

Nevertheless, President Park is adhering to her earlier position not to cooperate with the prosecution’s probe after a special investigative team from the prosecution announced on Sunday the interim results of its investigation. We are disappointed. After one massive candlelight vigil after another at Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul over the past month, Park, in a tearful address to the nation on Nov. 4, vowed to go along with investigations by the prosecution and a special counsel as well.

It is contradictory for Park to show a willingness to accept an independent counsel’s probe even while refusing to heed a legitimate summons for questioning from the top law enforcement agency. It is a grave mistake if the president believes she can get over the crisis through an authoritarian leadership style. The roar of public outrage should have already been heard by the Blue House from Gwanghwamun and Seoul Square.

After her minister of justice and senior secretary for civil affairs submitted their resignations, Park has no legal advisors around her to help weather the crisis. She must mull why her lawyer-turned-aides want to leave her now. We hope the president deeply considers the idea of complying with the prosecution’s summons for questioning. She could stay up all night with her presidential aides for a serious debate on what would really be the best way forward for the nation.

If the president once again rejects the prosecution’s call for questioning, she will have to confront stronger public criticism. If she continues not to cooperate, she will face even tougher questions after an independent counsel takes over.

JoognAng Ilbo, Nov. 24, Page 34
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