Prosecutors said Monday that they were quizzing a Japanese reporter over his recent article that raised questions on President Park Geun-hye's whereabouts on the day of April's deadly ferry sinking.
Tatsuya Kato, head of the Seoul bureau of Japan's conservative Sankei Shimbun newspaper, appeared before prosecutors earlier in the day along with his lawyer and interpreter.
Prosecutors said they plan to review whether Kato's article constitutes defamation before deciding whether to bring criminal charges against him.
The move came days after a South Korean civic group filed a complaint against Kato.
Park's office has vowed to hold the Japanese newspaper accountable for its report via civil and criminal legal action, saying that she stayed "inside the presidential compound" on April 16, the day of the ferry sinking that left more than 300 people dead or missing.
Earlier this month, the Japanese newspaper reported on an alleged secret meeting between Park and a man on the day of the ferry disaster, citing rumors circulated in Korea's financial community.
The Sankei Shimbun cited a column carried by the Chosun Ilbo on July 18, in which South Korea's largest-circulation newspaper said Park's whereabouts were unknown for seven hours, a development it said caused rumors that she met an unidentified person at an undisclosed location. (Yonhap)