Park's lawyer says he's his own man in Daegu mayoral race
Yoo Yeong-ha, who represented former President Park Geun-hye at her impeachment trial, denied that he is running for Daegu mayor because Park asked him to.
“As I do with all my decisions, I made the decision on my own to run for mayor,” Yoo said in a CBS radio program Monday morning. “I did ask Park for her opinion, but only because I wanted to make sure that my decision [to run for mayor] does not affect her negatively.”
The disgraced former president will be in charge of fundraising for Yoo.
Yoo announced his decision to run for mayor in Daegu last Friday, to compete against five-term conservative lawmaker Hong Joon-pyo and former People Power Party's Supreme Council member Kim Jae-won. The election is scheduled for June.
The media has speculated that Park may try to wield power through Yoo, if he is elected, given their close ties.
“One of the things Park told me often in our conversations in the past five years was that there is no such thing as a pro-Park faction,” he said.
Yoo's relationship with Park goes way back.
Yoo was Park’s legal aide in 2007 when she ran unsuccessfully in the Grand National Party’s presidential primary, and once more in 2010 when Park headed the supreme council of the party. When she was elected president in 2012, Yoo was rumored to be named her secretary on civilian affairs, a top portfolio in the Blue House, although Lee Jung-hee was named instead after what was reported at the time to be an infighting within the party.
He was one of her lawyers during the impeachment trial that led to her removal in March 2017, and the criminal trials that followed.
Park was later sentenced to 22 years in prison for corruption and abuse of power and Yoo was one of a few individuals that Park communicated through during her imprisonment. She was granted a special pardon last December by President Moon Jae-in due to deteriorating health. She was behind bars for four years and nine months, longer than her time in office, and longer than any other president who went to jail.
Yoo has unsuccessfully run for National Assembly four times for the Saenuri Party and other forerunners of today's People Power Party.
Park will be heading the donations committee for his campaign, Yoo said.
“She has agreed to take on the role, and she will shortly be sharing a message regarding this,” Yoo said during a press briefing on Friday in Daegu announcing his bid.
Park moved to Daegu last month, after which Yoo also moved his abode to the city's Suseong District.
BY ESTHER CHUNG [email@example.com]