The main opposition Democratic Party on Friday accepted President Park Geun-hye’s offer of dialogue but demanded an apology for the “democratic crisis” caused by the National Intelligence Agency’s alleged interference in last year’s presidential election.
Park on Thursday offered to meet ruling and opposition leaders on Monday to break the prolonged political impasse and normalize matters at the National Assembly.
“We will accept Cheong Wa Dae’s proposal for three-way talks,” DP chairman Kim Han-gil said at the party’s Supreme Council meeting.
Kim had been demanding a one-on-one meeting with Park since early August. The party earlier questioned the president’s sincerity on Thursday.
“(We are accepting the offer) because we believe the contents of the meeting are more important than its format,” the DP chairman said.
The president will first meet the National Assembly speaker, and the floor leaders of the two rival parties, then go on to hold a three-way meeting with the two party leaders, the presidential office said.
The president is scheduled to brief them on the outcome of her recent visits to Russia and Vietnam. It will be the first time in Korea for a president to visit the parliament for political talks.
Kim, however, urged the president to express her “will and determination” to reform the National Intelligence Service in order to “restore democracy.” DP has been repeatedly calling for Park’s apology over allegations that the NIS ordered its agents to conduct an online smear campaign against the opposition candidate.
Park has said that she was not aware of the alleged NIS operations and didn’t benefit from them.
The opposition leader demanded Park show her determination to “end one era and move on to a new one.”
“We are not asking President Park to apologize because she ordered (the alleged operations) as the then presidential candidate,” he said. “There must be an apology for the current crisis in democracy.”
Kim also urged the president to punish those involved in the election meddling scandal and to put an end to all political interference by the state intelligence agency.
“There must be an answer to how to reform the NIS in perspective of the people and the history … and to end the repeated political interference by the intelligence agency,” he said.
Both the presidential office and the ruling Saenuri Party welcomed the DP’s move.
“It is a good thing,” senior presidential press secretary Lee Jung-hyun said. Lee, however, declined to comment on the DP’s demands over the agendas of the talks, including NIS reform.
Rep. Choi Kyong-hwan, the floor leader of the ruling party, said the meeting should discuss a wide range of topics, including the NIS reform as well as the public’s livelihoods.
“It is very reasonable to discuss a wide range of public welfare and issues including the reform of the NIS,” Choi said.
“To successfully complete the talks and give hope to the people, the talks must be productive rather than specify agendas,” he added.
By Cho Chung-un