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Parties clash over Park’s former aide

The controversy over President Park Geun-hye’s former aide Chung Yoon-hoi grew Sunday, as the prosecution prepared to launch an investigation.

On Friday, the Segye Ilbo claimed that the presidential office conducted a probe into Chung early this year and found that he had met with three presidential secretaries on a regular basis to exchange classified information on Park’s state management.

According to the news report, the document also states that Chung and the presidential staff also tried to pull strings to replace Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon and officials in other top positions. 
The main gate of Cheong Wa Dae (Yonhap)
The main gate of Cheong Wa Dae (Yonhap)

The presidential office has since filed a complaint with the prosecution, which is reported to be planning to begin the investigation this week.

Almost immediately following the report, the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy formed a committee to delve into the issue and named Rep. Park Beom-kye as its head.

On Sunday, the NPAD turned up the heat, calling the situation “Chung Yoon-hoi-gate” and accusing the prosecution of oppressing its lawmakers for political reasons.

“This also proves that the prosecution indicted Rep. Park Jie-won on charges of defamation by spreading false information without even (holding) an investigation. This is oppression of the opposition party,” NPAD floor spokesperson Rep. Seo Young-kyo said.

In August, Park Jie-won was indicted on charges of defamation after he claimed that Park Geun-hye relied on an unofficial group of advisers to make personnel decisions.

Seo reiterated the NPAD’s demands to convene the parliamentary House Steering Committee in order to shed light on the matter.

Since the report came out, a police superintendent identified by the surname Park has been accused of taking large volumes of Cheong Wa Dae documents early this year. Park had been assigned to the office of the senior presidential secretary for civil affairs until February.

The police officer has since denied the allegations and said that he would cooperate fully with the prosecution’s investigation.

The Saenuri Party, for its part, continued its barrage against the NPAD, accusing the main opposition of launching an unjustified attack.

Citing presidential aides’ denials and other claims against the credibility of the initial media report, the Saenuri Party berated the NPAD for attempting to undermine the administration.

“Despite the circumstances (indicating) that the document is based on mere rumors, the NPAD is attacking Cheong Wa Dae and the president as if they have been waiting (for the opportunity),” Saenuri Party floor spokesman Rep. Lee Jang-woo said.

“Moreover, calling for a parliamentary fact-finding mission even before the prosecution’s investigation has begun only reflects (the NPAD’s) seditious intention to destabilize state affairs.”

The ruling party is also attempting to shift the focus to the prosecution’s investigation into how Cheong Wa Dae documents came to be removed from the presidential office.

“An official of the office of senior presidential secretary for civil affairs leaking internal documents to the media is unimaginable,” Saenuri Party deputy floor leader Rep. Kim Jae-won told the media on Saturday.

Describing the situation as deplorable, he added that discipline of Cheong Wa Dae officials must be addressed.

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)
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