President Park orders full investigation on leaked memo

December 2, 2014
President Park Geun-hye looks pensive during a meeting with her senior presidential secretaries at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul, Monday. Park called for a thorough investigation into allegations that a former aide and three secretaries had meddled in state affairs. (Yonhap)

President Park Geun-hye looks pensive during a meeting with her senior presidential secretaries at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul, Monday. Park called for a thorough investigation into allegations that a former aide and three secretaries had meddled in state affairs. (Yonhap)

By Yi Whan-woo

President Park Geun-hye called Monday for a thorough investigation into the alleged leak of internal memoranda about her former aide Jeong Yun-hoe.

“The leaking of such confidential information is an unimaginable breach of national order under any circumstances,” Park said during a senior presidential secretaries meeting at Cheong Wa Dae.

“It’s crucial to clear any suspicions over the case. We need to find out who leaked the memoranda and also why.

“Those who are found committing inappropriate acts will face heavy punishment regardless of their position.”

She also stressed that media and political parties should refrain from making claims based on rumors that Jeong used a group of presidential secretaries to peddle influence over state affairs.

Jeong, 59, was Park’s aide when she was a lawmaker before being elected to the presidency in December 2012. He now holds no position at Cheong Wa Dae.

“Making claims without checking basic facts will put the nation into chaos and cause conflict within our society,” Park said. “We should make sure that such rumors do not unsettle the country.”

She spoke after Cheong Wa Dae lodged a complaint to the prosecution on Friday about an article in the daily Segye Ilbo alleging secret ties between presidential aides and Jeong. The presidential office appeared to be in full denial.

Based on the report, the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) has been calling for Park’s explanation of the case. Cheong Wa Dae sees such a move as an attempt to undermine her governance for the remaining three years of her presidency.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said its investigation would focus on finding out who leaked the memoranda. It also said the probe would focus on ascertaining whether their content was true. Prosecutors said it would question relevant presidential secretaries within the week at the earliest.

The NPAD said a special counsel or the National Assembly should carry out such an investigation.

“The people will not trust the government if it tries to cover up the matter,” said interim leader Moon Hee-sang.

The party’s floor leader, Woo Yoon-keun, said, “The suspicions over a secret connection between presidential aides and Jeong are turning out to be true.”

“It would not be good for Cheong Wa Dae to continue to deny the allegations. It would eventually lead Park astray.”

According to the Segye Ilbo, Jeong allegedly received briefings from 10 presidential secretaries about goings-on in government. He allegedly spread rumors about a decision to replace chief of staff Kim Ki-choon, who has repeatedly faced criticism for wielding too much power.

The 10 secretaries include a trio who served Park during the 2012 presidential election. They are Lee Jae-man, secretary for administrative affairs, and Jeong Ho-sung and An Bong-geun, both personnel secretaries to the President.

The paper also said Kim received an oral briefing about the content of the internal memos but they were not reported up the official chain of command.

The daily also said the memoranda were believed to have been leaked by a police officer, identified only as Park, who Cheong Wa Dae asked to look into rumors widely circulating in the National Assembly that the chief of staff was seriously ill and would be replaced soon.

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