|Prosecutor General Chae Dong-wook(Yonhap news)|
President Park Geun-hye has not yet accepted the resignation of Prosecutor General Chae Dong-wook, a senior official said Sunday, stressing that truth about his alleged illegitimate child should be revealed first.
Chae offered to quit on Friday, a week after allegations surfaced that he fathered a son through an extramarital affair in 2002. He denied the allegations, but said they still made it difficult for him to carry out his duties as chief prosecutor.
"The resignation has not been accepted," senior presidential press secretary Lee Jung-hyun told reporters. "Revealing the true should come first."
The resignation offer came shortly after Justice Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn ordered an internal inspection into the allegations, citing a need to end the controversy over ethical standards of the prosecution chief. It was the first time that such an inspection order has been made.
Some saw Chae's departure as an effort to evade the inspection for fears that the allegations would prove true, while the main opposition Democratic Party and other critics denounced the rare order as an attempt to force Chae out of office and tame the prosecution.
Critics have also raised speculation that Chae might have run afoul of the government with an investigation into suspicions that the state-run National Intelligence Service attempted to influence last December's presidential election in favor of the ruling party.
They also claimed that Chae's departure is part of an attempt to blunt the probe.
Lee rejected the speculation.
"This is an issue about ethics of a public official, not about the prosecution's independence," Lee said. "An inspection takes place when there is a problem ... Why does Prosecutor General Choe have to step down when (the allegations against him) are not true?"
President Park must think the same way about the need for revealing the truth, he added.
The calls for revealing the true suggest that the justice ministry could still go ahead with the planned inspection into the allegations against Chae because his resignation has not been accepted.
Chae's resignation offer had once clouded the prospect of the planned talks between Park and DP leader Kim Han-gil scheduled for Monday, with some opposition members claiming that the party should boycott the three-way meeting that will also involve the chief of the ruling Saenuri Party.
But Kim said Sunday that he will attend the meeting and raise Chae's departure as a key topic.
"I think that the main topics for tomorrow's talks should be the harmful effects of political intervention by government agencies such as the NIS," Kim said, claiming that Chae's offer to resign is part of such harmful effects.
"The president should prepare (to give) a clear answer," he said.
In an apparent move to draw more public attention, the main opposition party proposed on Sunday that the three-way meeting be televised.
Cheong Wa Dae quickly rejected the proposal.
"I believe it will be enough that each side open the outcome of the meeting to the public without any restrictions or prior coordination," an official said, while speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Monday's three-way meeting has been set up as a compromise for the opposition party's long-standing demand for one-on-one talks with Park about the election-meddling scandal involving the spy agency.
The opposition party has been staging a street protest campaign since early August, demanding Park apologize over the scandal. She, however, has rejected the demand, saying she neither had any knowledge of the agency's alleged wrongdoing nor did she benefit from it. (Yonhap news)