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(LEAD) Park's office vents rage over opposition lawmaker's remark

All Headlines 11:42 July 12, 2013

(ATTN: UPDATES with response from rival political parties in last 7 paras; CORRECTS spelling of lawmaker's name in para 2; REVISES para 3)

SEOUL, July 12 (Yonhap) -- The office of President Park Geun-hye burst out in anger Friday and demanded the main opposition Democratic Party apologize after its floor spokesman insulted her by calling her an offspring of a man who shouldn't have been born.

Rep. Hong Ihk-pyo made the remark Thursday, accusing Park of trying to revive the dictatorial rule of her father, former strongman President Park Chung-hee, as the opposition stepped up attacks on her over allegations the state spy agency attempted to influence December's presidential election in her favor.

Hong called the late Park "gwitae" or a "baby born to a ghost," meaning he should not have been born, while citing a book about him and former Japanese Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's maternal grandfather who was once imprisoned as a class-A war criminal.

Hong called President Park and Abe "offsprings of gwitae," and claimed that both leaders are similar in that Abe is trying to revive Japanese militarism and Park appears to be dreaming of going back to the authoritarian rule of her father.

The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae bristled at the remark later Thursday, calling it an affront to the people who elected Park. And on Friday, the office further stepped up criticism and lashed out at the lawmaker.

"The remark makes us question his qualification as a lawmaker. It was verbal abuse and a slur that we can't even believe was made by a lawmaker representing the people," senior presidential press secretary Lee Jung-hyun said.

"This amounts to denying the legitimacy of a president chosen by the people and a direct challenge to liberal democracy," he said. "We ask if the spokesman's remark is the Democratic Party's official position. The opposition party should clearly state its position and apologize to the people and the president."

Park has disavowed any link to the spy agency's election meddling, stressing she had no knowledge of the acts, nor did she benefit from the alleged wrongdoing. But opposition lawmakers have accused her of being lukewarm about the scandal, even threatening to launch a campaign to make her election null and void.

The ruling Saenuri Party canceled all of its scheduled floor events for the day in protest of the remark.

The rival parties had earlier agreed to visit the National Archives of Korea in Seongnam, south of Seoul, later in the day to select what could be controversial passages from a transcript of late President Roh Moo-hyun's 2007 summit meeting with then North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

The excerpts would serve to verify claims by the ruling party that Roh tried to scrap a disputed Yellow Sea border with North Korea during the summit. The ruling party claims the late president undermined South Korea's sovereignty, while the opposition party insists the allegations are nonsense and aimed at diverting public attention away from the spy agency scandal.

"How can the ruling and opposition parties meet and talk calmly in this situation?" Rep. Choi Kyoung-hwan, the floor leader of the ruling party, asked Yonhap News Agency by phone. "We are suspending our entire floor schedule and plan to discuss measures (to handle the situation)."

The DP expressed regret at the ruling party's move, saying it will press ahead with its floor schedule.

"The reason (the two parties agreed to) disclose the transcript was so that we could prevent further political strife and further division in public opinion," said Rep. Jung Sung-ho, the DP's first vice floor leader. "It's unacceptable that a ruling party with power and responsibilities has canceled it like this."

The DP will consider sending only its lawmakers to the state archives agency if the ruling party refuses to comply, he added.



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