South Korea MPs to quiz doc­tors and nurses about Park’s ‘miss­ing’ 7 hours

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Seven hours may have sealed the fate of South Korea’s be­lea­guered Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye. That was the time be­tween the first news re­ports that the Se­wol ferry car­ry­ing hun­dreds of chil­dren was sink­ing off the na­tion’s south­ern coast on April 16, 2014 and her first TV ap­pear­ance that day. The tragedy, which claimed the lives of 304 peo­ple many of them kids from one high school con­tin­ues to gnaw at the na­tion’s con­scious­ness, es­pe­cially be­cause a res­cue ef­fort was widely seen as botched. A lack of in­for­ma­tion on Park’s where­abouts and ac­tions dur­ing that time has fu­elled con­spir­acy the­o­ries which have reemerged dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into an in­flu­ence-ped­dling scan­dal that is poised to bring down her pres­i­dency.

The miss­ing seven hours may have marked a turn­ing point in Park’s re­la­tion­ship with the na­tion’s peo­ple, breed­ing mis­trust and anger, and leav­ing many South Kore­ans, now seething over the cur­rent scan­dal, to ques­tion what else may have been cov­ered-up. “What was she do­ing while the chil­dren were dy­ing?” asked Kim Geum-ja-whose son was killed in the tragedy-and who is among a group of ac­tivists camped-out in Seoul’s main cer­e­mo­nial plaza since shortly af­ter the dis­as­ter. “What was so ur­gent that she was miss­ing for seven hours?”

Today, a par­lia­men­tary panel look­ing into the in­flu­ence-ped­dling al­le­ga­tions will hold a hear­ing specif­i­cally on the miss­ing seven hours and is ex­pected to probe into ex­actly what Park was do­ing dur­ing that time. The seven hours were in­cluded by par­lia­ment in its mo­tion to im­peach her. Park’s for­mer med­i­cal staff, in­clud­ing two per­sonal doc­tors and two nurses, are sched­uled to ap­pear, as is an out­side plastic sur­geon who treated Choi Soon-sil, Park’s friend at the cen­tre of the scan­dal.

Last month, more than two years af­ter the dis­as­ter, Park’s of­fice pub­lished a page on its web­site de­tail­ing what re­ports the pres­i­dent re­ceived, and when, on the day of the sink­ing in a bid to quell the ru­mors about what she was do­ing at the time. “We’ve re­peat­edly ex­plained, two years ago and since then, that she had been re­ceiv­ing re­ports about the Se­wol in­ci­dent all through­out the day and gave in­struc­tions ei­ther by phone or writ­ten re­ports,” Kim Dong-jo, a Blue House spokesman said.

The of­fi­cial time­line de­tails ex­actly when Park re­ceived re­ports or gave or­ders, in­clud­ing an early de­mand-less than an hour af­ter the doomed ferry be­gan to sink-to make sure that there are no ca­su­al­ties and that no one on board is left be­hind. —Reuters

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