NATIONAL

[Newsmaker] Park Geun-hye refuses to be questioned on Sewol

By Kim So-hyun
  • Published : Mar 20, 2018 - 17:05
  • Updated : Mar 20, 2018 - 18:01
Former President Park Geun-hye refused to be questioned by the prosecution on allegations that her presidential office lied about the time at which she was first informed of the deadly sinking of the Sewol ferry four years ago.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said that a senior prosecutor visited Park at the Seoul Detention Center on Monday, but could not interrogate her due to her refusal.

In October last year, President Moon Jae-in’s office said it found documents showing that Park received her first report on the ferry’s sinking at 9:30 a.m. on April 16, 2014, but the time was later revised to 10 a.m. in an apparent attempt to avoid criticism over Park’s inaction before giving her first order at 10:15 a.m. 


Former President Park Geun-hye (Yonhap)

Cheong Wa Dae also said Park’s top security adviser Kim Kwan-jin ordered an illegal revision of a government manual on crisis management in July 2014 to indicate that the Ministry of Interior and Safety, instead of the presidential office as originally stated, was in charge of handling disasters.

Moon’s presidential office requested the prosecution to investigate Park’s key aides including former presidential chief of staff Kim Ki-choon, former chief of Cheong Wa Dae’s National Security Office Kim Kwan-jin and former head of Cheong Wa Dae’s crisis management office Shin In-ho for their alleged fabrication of documents and abuse of power.

Prosecutors have since grilled and raided the offices of Shin In-ho, Kim Kwan-jin and another former NSO chief Kim Jang-soo over allegations that they ordered the doctoring of the reports on the Sewol’s sinking. Prosecutors had requested a warrant to detain Kim Kwan-jin, which the court denied.

The families of the 304 people who were killed or went missing in the Sewol ferry sinking have demanded Park reveal her whereabouts and what she was doing on the day of the accident, claiming she may have been caught up with personal affairs.

Park’s presidential office said that Park attended official duties at her private residence in Cheong Wa Dae on April 16, 2014, but did not explain why she was not briefed in person for seven hours until she showed up at the disaster control center at around 5:15 p.m.

The prosecution is expected to announce soon the results of its investigation into the alleged falsification of the time of reporting and Park’s whereabouts on the day of the Sewol’s sinking.

By Kim So-hyun (sophie@heraldcorp.com)