Former aide testifies that South Korean president instructs document leakage to confidante
SEOUL - A former close aide to South Korean President Park Geun-hye has testified to prosecutors that he leaked confidential documents to Park’s long-time confidante Choi Soon-sil under the president’s instructions, local media outlets reported yesterday. Jeong Ho-seong, former presidential secretary in charge of handling all of documents reported to President Park, said in a questioning by prosecutors that he had delivered presidential documents to Choi under the president’s direction, according to Chosun Ilbo newspaper. Jeong, who assisted Park for about two decades, is called one of “three knobs of a door” that directly leads into the president. He is alleged to have brought classified reports to Choi on a daily basis. The leaked documents include Park’s speeches, secret contacts with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) under former President Lee Myung-bak, schedules for the president’s overseas trip and reports for cabinet meetings, according to Yonhap news agency. The former aide, however, denied allegations that Choi had edited the presidential documents to meddle in government affairs, saying it was part of Park’s efforts to listen to various opinions, Chosun Ilbo reported. A tablet PC, which local cable channel JTBC obtained, indicated an editing of presidential speeches as multiple phrases were marked in red, according to TV footage. The speeches included a landmark one made in Dresden, Germany, in 2014 to set out a vision for reunification of the two Koreas. Choi has denied it was her belonging. Jeong initially denied allegations that he had leaked the classified documents, but he reversed the testimony as his mobile phones, seized by prosecutors during the Oct. 29 raid, contained his recorded dialogues with the president and Choi. Ahn Jong-beom, former senior presidential secretary on policy coordination, has also testified to prosecutors that he received instructions from President Park and gave her reports on the donations from conglomerates to establish two non-profit foundations presumably controlled by Choi.
Ahn has reportedly helped Choi pressure 53 conglomerates into donating 77.4 billion won (68 million U.S. dollars) to the Mir and K-Sports foundations. Samsung reportedly made the largest contributions of 20.4 billion won to the cultural and sports funds. Prosecutors raided the offices of Samsung Electronics for allegations that the company had illicitly provided finance assistance to Choi’s daughter who was a former member of the national equestrian team.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye addresses the nation at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea.(Photo: Xinhua)