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Choi scandal sheds new light on Park’s past words

Ever since her days as lawmaker of the Saenuri Party, President Park Geun-hye has often bewildered the public with her unconventional choice of vocabulary in official speeches and everyday conversation.

Now with the revelation that Choi Soon-sil, Park’s lifelong confidante and daughter of the late cult leader Choi Tae-min, has long exerted influence on the state leader, such wordings are being reviewed from a different angle.

Words which seemed to encompass a religious meaning gained the public’s attention, reflecting the widely-spread suspicion that they may have been dictated by the pseudo-pastor’s daughter.

President Park asserted that current history textbooks were largely biased, failing to elaborate on the nation’s historic legitimacy and making students feel ashamed of their legacy.

In the five-party talks held in October, consisting of the president, chairmen and floor leaders of rival parties, Rep. Lee Jong-kul asked Park which part contained shameful content.

“I can feel such tinge throughout the whole book,” was the president’s answer, which immediately kindled endless parodies on the internet.

Unperturbed by such mockery, Park once again adopted an abstract term in advocating the need of the state-published textbooks.

“One who doesn’t know one’s history becomes a person with no soul, and without a proper history education, one’s soul may only turn abnormal,” she said the following month, this time in a Cabinet meeting.

Following a series of reports revealing the president’s reliance on Choi from clothing selection to personnel appointments, some suspect that Park’s incomprehensible choice of expressions may have come from the pseudo-pastor’s daughter.

“President Park has often flustered the people with answers that may not be deemed those spoken by a civilized state leader, but now the question is solved,” said the runner-up opposition People’s Party in a recent statement following the outbreak of the Choi scandal.

The president has also often come under fire for her “third-party perspective” when speaking, stepping aside from the responsibility as state leader.

“The government should come up with countermeasures,” Park said in June last year, following the outbreak of the deadly Middle East respiratory syndrome.

Her address, describing herself as an outside observer aloof from the government for which she is chief, was jeered as an “out-of-body experience” speech technique.

Meanwhile, recently escalating calls for the president’s resignation have sparked renewed interest in a now-ironic lapse made by Park several years ago.

“I hereby resign from my 15 years of presidency, during which I have shared the people’s joys and sorrows,” said then-presidential aspirant Park in November 2012, a month ahead of the 18th presidential election in which she would ultimately prove victorious.

Having intended to say “lawmaker post” instead of “presidency,” the startled Park immediately retracted her words and rephrased the sentence, vowing to focus on the presidential campaign.

At the time, the slip of tongue was taken as being triggered by the tense circumstances, especially as Park had until then been known as a taciturn and dispassionate character.

By Bae Hyun-jung (