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(LEAD) Cheong Wa Dae says will take massive anti-gov't rally seriously

All Headlines 15:41 November 13, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS presidential spokesman's comment in paras 5-7)

SEOUL, Nov. 13 (Yonhap) -- The office of President Park Geun-hye is in the process of discussing measures to allay the public anger following Saturday's massive rally over a corruption scandal involving Park and her close confidante, officials said Sunday.

On Sunday morning, Presidential Chief of Staff Han Gwang-ok and other senior presidential secretaries met to discuss how to cope with the unprecedented protest rally where organizers say more than 1 million people gathered to demand Park's resignation, the officials said.

"Cheong Wa Dae takes the public anger expressed in the rally last night very seriously. It is gathering wisdom to come up with the correct countermeasures to resolve the current political chaos," an official said.

Park observed the rally from her official residence in Cheong Wa Dae, he said without elaborating.

Later in the day, presidential spokesman Jung Youn-kuk told reporters that Park is at pains over how to fulfill her duty as president and normalize state affairs that have been paralyzed due to the influence-peddling scandal.

In the scandal, Park's longtime friend Choi Soon-sil allegedly meddled in a variety of affairs of state. Choi was arrested on charges of fraud and abuse of power early this month.

Asked if the upcoming measures include Park's departure from the ruling Saenuri Party and appointment of a new premier, selected based on cross-party consensus, to form a new nonpartisan government, Jung said, "It is hard to mention any specific details, but (the president) ... is considering all possible options."

Park has so far made two public apologies but apparently failed to calm public outrage. She has not fully explained her role in the scandal, and her approval rating has plunged to a record low of 5 percent.

This photo taken on Nov. 12, 2016, shows people demanding President Park Geun-hye's resignation in a candlelight rally over a corruption scandal involving Park's close confidante Choi Soon-sil in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Over 1 million people came to the candlelight rally in downtown Seoul, which officially lasted for three hours until 10:30 p.m., according to organizers. Police estimated the figure at 260,000, which surpassed the 170,000 they had initially expected.

The people took to the streets in protest of the unprecedented corruption scandal that involves Choi and her close secretaries.

Three opposition parties also joined the rally, along with some potential presidential hopefuls, such as Moon Jae-in, former chief of the Democratic Party, and Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon of the same main opposition party.


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