Park de­nies fol­low­ing cult as scan­dal con­tin­ues

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

The South Korean Pres­i­dent, Park Geun-hye, has pub­licly de­nied fall­ing vic­tim to a re­li­gious cult as scan­dal threat­ens to en­gulf her lead­er­ship.

Ap­pear­ing close to tears in a tele­vised ad­dress, she apol­o­gised for al­low­ing a long-stand­ing friend in­ap­pro­pri­ate ac­cess to govern­ment pol­icy-mak­ing.

She agreed to be ques­tioned over the scan­dal but did not of­fer to re­sign.

Choi Soon-sil is sus­pected of us­ing their friend­ship to so­licit do­na­tions to a non-profit fund she con­trolled. Ms Choi is in de­ten­tion fac­ing charges of fraud and abuse of power. The main op­po­si­tion party said the pres­i­dent’s apol­ogy lacked sin­cer­ity and it called on Ms Park to step back from state af­fairs.

Scuf­fles broke out be­tween po­lice and demon­stra­tors de­mand­ing Ms Park’s res­ig­na­tion in cen­tral Seoul on Fri­day.

Ms Choi, a long-time friend of Ms Park’s, is the daugh­ter of Choi Taemin, a shad­owy quasi-re­li­gious leader who was closely linked to Ms Park’s fa­ther, then-pres­i­dent Park Chung-hee.

Yes­ter­day, Ms Park went on TV to deny al­low­ing cultish rit­u­als to be held in the pres­i­den­tial palace.

“There have been claims that I fell for a re­li­gious cult or had [shaman­ist rit­u­als] per­formed in the Blue House, but I would like to clar­ify that those are ab­so­lutely not true,” the pres­i­dent said.

She said she took sole re­spon­si­bil­ity for ac­cess to govern­ment doc­u­ments and was will­ing to be in­ves­ti­gated.

She had, she said, “put too much faith in a per­sonal re­la­tion­ship and didn’t look care­fully at what was hap­pen­ing”.

Any­one found to have done wrong would be pun­ished, she said, and “if nec­es­sary, I’m de­ter­mined to let prose­cu­tors in­ves­ti­gate me and ac­cept an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by an in­de­pen­dent coun­sel too”.

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