Park likely to leave Cheong Wa Dae today

By Kim Rahn

Former President Park Geun-hye may leave Cheong Wa Dae as early as today following the Constitutional Court’s ruling that ousted her, officials at the presidential office said Sunday.

The unseated head of state, however, is unlikely to make any comment about the court decision and her stance.

She was supposed to vacate Cheong Wa Dae immediately upon the court decision which made her an ordinary citizen. But she has remained there because her private residence in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul, was being renovated, the officials said.

“The basic work was almost finished Sunday afternoon,” one official said, refusing to be named. “She will move out once the preparations are complete, so it may be Monday morning.”

The Samseong-dong house was built in 1983, and Park lived there from 1990 to February 2013 when she became president.

Cheong Wa Dae has repeatedly said that Park would return to the house when she retires.

It initially planned to renovate the long-vacated house before her original term would have ended in February 2018. But that plan went awry after her impeachment, and the remodeling work did not commence until the court ruling.

During the weekend, a broken boiler was fixed, new wallpaper was hung and some new furniture was moved in. Some rooms were also remodeled for security staff who will have to stay there until a separate house nearby is prepared for them.

While some acknowledged that Park needs time to pack her things and have the private residence prepared, others claimed she should have left Cheong Wa Dae immediately after the ruling because she is no longer president.

The Labor Party filed a complaint with police against her, Saturday, saying Park, an ordinary citizen, is occupying Cheong Wa Dae, a militarily important place, without permission.

“A president whose term finishes is obliged to leave Cheong Wa Dae,” the party said in a statement. “It is only a play on words that there is no precedent about when an ousted president should vacate the presidential office. The former president is occupying Cheong Wa Dae without permission.”

It said that Park, one of the central figures in the corruption scandal, could destroy evidence within Cheong Wa Dae related to her alleged illegal activities.

Along with her leaving, public attention is also focused on whether she will comment about the court decision.

Many hoped Park would speak Friday and acknowledge the court ruling, because such a statement would help soothe her angry supporters and mend the national division between liberals and conservatives, stemming from the corruption scandal.

But she chose to remain silent. Sources said that during a meeting with presidential secretaries right after the court decision, she only said, “I have nothing to say.” They said the former President needs time to pull herself together from the shock of the unanimous court decision on her impeachment.

The website and Facebook pages of Cheong Wa Dae still show Park as president and introduce her activities during her presidency. Officials at Cheong Wa Dae said they will update the information soon.

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