South Korean political arena divided over President Park’s address on scandal
SEOUL - Rival political parties in South Korea showed different reactions to President Park Geun-hye’s national address yesterday, her second since a scandal involving her longtime confidante and former aides came into focus last month.
Park addressed the nation over the political scandal that sparked calls for her resignation, saying she will accept an investigation into herself, if necessary, by prosecutors. She made her public apology once again after acknowledging last week that Choi Soon-sil, Park’s close friend for about four decades, gave personal advice on presidential speeches. In reaction, the main opposition Minjoo Party suggested its push to force the president to resign, while one of the two minor oppositions positively assessed Park’s acceptance of a criminal investigation though she added a precondition of “if necessary.” Some of non-President Park faction within the ruling Saenuri Party forecast that Park’s speech would not appease public anger, but the party leadership stressed the importance of the president’s pledge to cooperate with prosecutors. Minjoo Party chairwoman Choo Mi-ae told a press conference that President Park attributed the collapse of state affairs to her inappropriate relationship with Choi in her personal history, urging the president to realize a fact that the collapse was caused by herself. Choo warned that her party will move to force the president to step down unless Park accepts three demands, including an appointment of an independent prosecutor under a separate law, a parliamentary investigation into the scandal and a new nomination of prime minister proposed by an agreement in the National Assembly. President Park tapped Kim Byongjoon, former policy advisor to late President Roh Moo-hyun in the opposition bloc, as new prime minister Wednesday, but opposition parties have boycotted parliamentary hearing for approval as the president named the nominee without any prior notice or consultation with the parliament. Both ruling and opposition parties have demanded a parliament-proposed prime minister be picked to let him choose cabinet members and form a grand-coalition government.
Saenuri Party chairman Lee Jung-hyun, one of key proPresident Park faction members, told reporters that the president declared everybody is equal before the law by vowing to actively cooperate with prosecutors on her own wrongdoings. However, one of non-Park faction lawmaker of the governing party said public furor would not be eased as the president has yet to tell all of the truth behind the scandal. Another non-Park faction legislator said Park should have expressed her willingness to loosen her grip on power. Sim Sang-jung, chairwoman of the left-wing minor Justice Party, told reporters that people will never accept the president’s address in the absence of explanations on the truth, calling on Park to voluntarily resign.
People watch TV broadcasting South Korean President Park Geun-hye addressing the nation, at a train station in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo: Xinhua)