Blue House nurses queried on Sewol sinkingThe mystery of where President Park Geun-hye was on the day the Sewol ferry sank and what she was doing continues to deepen.
Two military nurses posted at the Blue House on the day - April 16, 2014 - could help solve the mystery of where the president was for seven unaccounted hours, from 9:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
But their statements so far have been less than revealing.
One former military nurse said at a press conference Tuesday that she had not administered any treatment to the president that day.
“I conducted my usual tasks,” said the nurse, who is surnamed Shin, “and I did not see her in person.”
Shin said she never gave the president any injections when she worked at the Blue House and that no other nurse did either.
Shin became a nursing officer in 2007, was affiliated with the Armed Forces Capital Hospital, which posted her at the Blue House. Shin was discharged from the military in February and is working at a provincial hospital in Wonju, Gangwon.
The revelation Monday that the two nurses were regular staffers at the Blue House, rather than being dispatched by the Armed Forces Capital Hospital when some medical treatment was needed, raised further suspicions that the Blue House and Ministry of National Defense were trying to cover up what happened on the day of the Sewol’s sinking.
The other nursing officer, who is surnamed Jo, is currently receiving overseas training at a military base in San Antonio, Texas.
Two weeks ago, it was reported that a nursing officer from the Armed Forces Medical Command was dispatched to the Blue House on the day of the Sewol sinking. The Blue House initially denied any record of a visit from a nurse that day
Then media revealed that there were two military nursing officials, Jo and Shin, who were regular staffers at the presidential medical unit at the time. Technically they were not visiting. Many questions have been raised over where Park was the first seven hours of the sinking of the Sewol ferry, which ultimately led to the deaths of 304 people, mostly students.
If Park received any injections that day, the nursing officers should have administered them or at least been aware of what the president was injected with.
A probe conducted by the Ministry of Health and Welfare revealed that a nursing officer at the Blue House brought a blood sample of Park’s to Chaum, an anti-aging clinic in Gangnam’s affluent Cheongdam-dong, in September 2013 for examination. It was registered and recorded under the name of Park’s close confidante Choi Soon-sil.
But the Blue House again gave excuses Tuesday, saying the nurses did not treat the president at all that day.
Presidential spokesman Jung Youn-kuk on Tuesday acknowledged that the two military nurses worked at the Blue House, which was why there was no record of their visiting on the day of the Sewol sinking. He added that they “did not administer any treatment or procedures on the president.”
“One of the nursing officers stopped by the residence at 10 a.m. to deliver mouthwash,” Jung added. “A nursing officer cannot give any procedures without the knowledge of the presidential medical office.”
In a briefing Monday, Moon Sang-gyun, spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense, stated that the nurses were working at the presidential office’s medical unit, which meant technically that they were not “visiting.”
Moon said that Jo was selected to train overseas in August 2015 and from last year has resided in Texas.
That raised the question of whether this commissioned officer received any special treatment in getting selected to study overseas.
However, defense officials pointed out that since 2010, up to three nursing officers are selected each year to train overseas and that the competition rate of that particular program was one in six.
BY SARAH KIM [email@example.com]