Park refuses to accept ruling

Former President Park Geun-hye smiles while being greeted by her supporters in front of her private residence in southern Seoul, Sunday, after leaving Cheong Wa Dae following the Constitutional Court’s decision to unseat her. / Yonhap

Former President leaves Cheong Wa Dae saying ‘truth will be revealed’

By Kim Rahn

Former President Park Geun-hye left Cheong Wa Dae and returned to her home in southern Seoul, Sunday, after leaving a message that she would not accept the Constitutional Court’s ruling that ousted her.

The ex-head of state indicated she would not accept the court decision, saying, “the truth will be revealed without fail.”

She left the presidential office at 7:16 p.m. Before her departure, she had tea with presidential secretaries to bid farewell, and said good-bye to some 500 staffers, according to Cheong Wa Dae officials.

Escorted by police cars and motorcycles, Park’s limousine departed the presidential office and headed to her private residence in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul. Vehicles of news outlets followed it on the street to record her journey back home.

Getting out of the car in front of the house, she was greeted by hundreds of supporters and eight lawmakers, with whom she exchanged greetings and shook hands.

Park did not look grim; rather she smiled to the people and waved to them. It was contrary to her earlier response to the court ruling conveyed by Cheong Wa Dae officials, who said that during a meeting with presidential secretaries right after the decision, she only said, “I have nothing to say.”

She entered the house without making any comment. But minutes later, Rep. Min Kyung-wook, a former Cheong Wa Dae spokesman, read her stance on behalf of her: “I’m sorry for failing to fulfill my duty as president. I thank you for your support. I’ll bear everything. I believe that the truth will be revealed without fail, although it will take time.”

This was her first message announced after the court decision. It was also again against people’s expectations and hopes ― many expected Park would 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.

The message, which stressed “the truth,” rather indicated she would not accept the unanimous court decision on her impeachment, as she has denied all allegations facing her in the corruption scandal involving her confidant Choi Soon-sil. It also seemed to show that she would deny all allegations during the upcoming investigation by the prosecution and defend herself actively in any criminal trial she will face.

The message is also likely to instigate more protests by her supporters, whose actions are becoming more violent. On her return, about 800 supporters gathered near her house and waved the Taegeukgi, the national flag, which they are using as an anti-impeachment symbol. They welcomed the unseated head of state, chanting slogans such as “Cancel the impeachment!”

Regarding the message, the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea said it seemed Park was rejecting the court decision and if this was the case, it was shocking and regretful.

“The message was gratitude to her supporters, not a stance to the public,” it said in a statement. “It is pity that she gave up the last chance to solve the problem herself. Park will have to know that she will bear more responsibility for the national division that will come from this rejection.”

The minor opposition People’s Party also said in a statement, “The former President fails to realize her wrongdoing even after being impeached for the first time in the nation’s history. It is not only her but also all the country’s misfortune.”

A car carrying Park Geun-hye leaves Cheong Wa Dae, Sunday, two days after she was ousted due to a massive influence-peddling and corruption scandal. / Yonhap

Moving set after house renovation

Park was supposed to vacate Cheong Wa Dae immediately upon the court decision which made her an ordinary citizen. But she remained in the presidential complex until Sunday because the Samseong-dong house was being renovated.

The 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 she would return to the house when she retired.

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 and home appliances were 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. Security office staff also fenced off the house.

A lawmaker told Yonhap News Agency that four staffers will attend to the former president for the time being ― Lee Sun-woo, the head of Cheong Wa Dae’s medical office, a female bodyguard, a male secretary, and Yoon Jeon-chu, a former fitness trainer to whom Park gave an official position at the presidential office. Yoon is suspected of having been a personal assistant to Choi, the central figure in the corruption scandal.

While some acknowledged that Park needed 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, was 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.

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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