Se­wol doc­u­ment forgery faces new probe

The Korea Times - - NATIONAL - By Kim Hyo-jin hy­o­jinkim@ktimes.com

The main op­po­si­tion Lib­erty Korea Party (LKP) plans to push for a Na­tional As­sem­bly in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the pres­i­den­tial of­fice over its rev­e­la­tion that doc­u­ments about the Se­wol ferry dis­as­ter were il­le­gally changed un­der the Park Geun-hye gov­ern­ment.

Its move Fri­day comes a day af­ter Cheong Wa Dae dis­closed that doc­u­ments show­ing the pres­i­den­tial of­fice un­der Park changed the time she was first briefed about the dis­as­ter in 2014.

Call­ing the rev­e­la­tion “po­lit­i­cal ma­neu­ver­ing,” the party claimed the pres­i­den­tial of­fice should ex­plain how it ob­tained the doc­u­ments and that it would face a search if the par­lia­men­tary in­ves­ti­ga­tion hap­pens.

“We de­cided to re­quest a par­lia­men­tary probe into the pres­i­den­tial of­fice for hav­ing pre­sented the un­ver­i­fied doc­u­ments,” LKP floor leader Chung Woo-taik said dur­ing a party meet­ing.

LKP law­mak­ers ques­tioned the tim­ing of the dis­clo­sure, claim­ing it was in­tended to in­flu­ence a lo­cal court de­ci­sion on whether to ex­tend the de­ten­tion of Park, who is on trial for cor­rup­tion. The back­lash be­came stronger af­ter the Seoul Cen­tral Dis­trict Court ex­tended the de­ten­tion of Park, which was ini­tially set to ex­pire Mon­day, for another six months.

“It aimed to send a strong sig­nal that the ju­di­ciary should ex­tend Park’s de­ten­tion,” Chung said.

The law­mak­ers also claimed the rev­e­la­tion was in­tended to sab­o­tage the on­go­ing par­lia­men­tary au­dit of gov­ern­ment of­fices, the first un­der the Moon Jae-in ad­min­is­tra­tion, by dis­tract­ing pub­lic at­ten­tion.

“It is highly ques­tion­able if it is per­mis­si­ble for a pres­i­den­tial chief of staff to give a brief­ing about some­thing that could over­shadow all the other is­sues on the first day of the As­sem­bly au­dit,” said the party’s deputy floor leader Kim Seon-dong. “It’s an in­sult and a means to sab­o­tage the on­go­ing au­dit.”

Later in the day, Cheong Wa Dae asked the Seoul Cen­tral Dis­trict Pros­e­cu­tors’ Of­fice to in­ves­ti­gate the chang­ing of of­fi­cial doc­u­ments by Park’s aides.

Ac­cord­ing to Cheong Wa Dae, an elec­tronic doc­u­ment from the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Of­fice (NSO) showed that on April 16, 2014, the day of the in­ci­dent, Park was first told about the sink­ing at 9:30 a.m. but on Oct. 23 that year, Cheong Wa Dae changed this to 10 a.m.

Moon’s chief of staff Im Jong-seok told a brief­ing Thurs­day that he viewed it as an at­tempt to re­duce the gap be­tween the first re­port and Park’s first or­der of a res­cue op­er­a­tion, which was made at 10:15 a.m.

Other doc­u­ments also showed pres­i­den­tial guide­lines on deal­ing with a na­tional cri­sis had been changed with­out due process af­ter the bun­gled res­cue op­er­a­tion.

NSO chief Kim Kwan-jin is sus­pected of hav­ing or­dered the il­le­gal re­vi­sion to the guide­lines on cri­sis man­age­ment — mov­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for han­dling na­tional crises from the NSO to the now de­funct Min­istry of Se­cu­rity and Pub­lic Ad­min­is­tra­tion — in July 2014.

This was shortly af­ter then-pres­i­den­tial chief of staff Kim Ki-choon tes­ti­fied at the As­sem­bly that the pres­i­den­tial of­fice was not a con­trol tower for the tragedy, in which more than 300 pas­sen­gers died.

Mean­while, lib­eral par­ties have crit­i­cized the Park ad­min­is­tra­tion for the al­ter­ation of the doc­u­ments.

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