Ex-President Park prepares new residence in hometown Daegu
Former President Park Geun-hye will reside at her new home in Dalseong County, Daegu, upon being discharged from Samsung Medical Center.
Yoo Yeong-ha, the lawyer who defended Park in her power abuse case that rocked the nation and led to her impeachment in 2016, was reported last week to have bought the house under the name of Park. The house was reported to have cost 2.5 billion won ($2 million).
The house, situated some 20 minutes by car from the downtown area of Daegu, is situated on some 1,500 square meters (0.37 acres) of land, about a fifth of a soccer field. Two stories high, and with a basement, the house has eight rooms total.
Park, impeached in December 2016 and removed from office in March 2017 over an influence-peddling scandal surrounding her confidante Choi Soon-sil, was convicted of corruption and abuse of power and sentenced to a total of 22 years in prison. She was also fined 21.5 billion won.
She was pardoned, however, by President Moon Jae-in last December, in consideration of her deteriorating health. The pardon also lifted the fines — she had already paid 6.5 billion won.
Park has been hospitalized at Samsung Medical Center in Seoul since her release. She received shoulder surgery in 2019 and has been suffering from chronic shoulder and back pain.
Her former home, which was located in Samseong-dong in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, at the time of her impeachment, was sold, and so was her another abode in Naegok-dong of Seocho District, southern Seoul.
Banners welcoming Park's return to her hometown hung near the house on Sunday, and supporters could be seen gathered outside the two-story house on Sunday morning to peer over the walls or pose in front of them, as many chatted about what they heard will be the new abode for the former president.
"We heard that former President Park will be coming back to Daegu, her hometown, after she was released from prison," said Cho Soo-yeon, a 45-year-old woman and supporter of the former president, speaking in front of the house in Daegu. "We hope that Park will regain her health here, take walks around the neighborhood and spend time with her supporters."
But not every Daegu resident was happy to welcome Park back.
"Former President Park isn't even here yet, but the supporters are making such a fuss already," said Kim Yeon-soo, a 33-year-old resident of the neighborhood. "I'm afraid there may be frequent political gatherings and traffic jams to come, after Park moves here."
Park, 70 years old this year, was born as the first daughter of late President Park Chung Hee, in Samdeok-dong of Jung District, Daegu. Park Chung Hee was the longest-serving president, having held onto power for 18 years, before he was assassinated in 1979.
Upon her discharge from the hospital, Park may release a message to the public, according to Cho Won-jin, a far-right politician and a strong supporter of Park.
When asked on a CBS radio program on Monday if he thinks Park will be discharged by Feb. 22 at the latest, Cho said, "Park is recovering slowly, and she may be out later than expected. She will put out a message, which could be one of gratitude toward the public, or a political one."
Cho added that her message, if political, will not be aimed directly at either of the top two presidential candidates, the conservative Yoon Suk-yeol or the liberal Lee Jae-myung.
But, he added, her feelings toward Yoon "are not that great."
Yoon was part of the independent counsel that spearheaded the investigations on Park from late 2016 to early 2017.
BY KIM JUNG-SEOK, KIM KI-JEONG, ESTHER CHUNG [firstname.lastname@example.org]