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(EDITORIAL from The Korea Times on Jan. 17)

All News 07:03 January 17, 2017

President on sly
: Park's disinformation ruse should stop

President Park Geun-hye is said to be considering holding another meeting with the media after the one she held on New Year's Day. Park has been well known for her disdain for the press, rarely giving news conferences.

It is not difficult to fathom Park's newly found love of the media. She is anxious seeing the growing body of evidence substantiating her wrongdoing through the ongoing investigation by the special prosecutor. So Park wants to throw the probe into disarray and rally back her supporters.

Before she continues her media play, Park should comply with the request by the Constitutional Court to testify as part of the proceedings to decide whether to uphold the impeachment motion against her passed by the National Assembly. She has so far turned down both the court's requests.

Park's refusal stems obviously from a legal viewpoint that her appearance strengthens the public sense of her guilt and is based on the concern that she could incriminate herself.

This tactic weakens her assertion in a previous briefing that she did nothing wrong. She claimed that chaebol had "voluntarily" donated to the tune of tens of millions of dollars to foundations under the control of her friend Choi Soon-sil but this claim is being severely disputed.

For instance, Lee Jae-yong, leader of the Samsung Group, was put in a position to defend himself against allegations that he had paid Park to secure his management control in lieu of his bedridden father, Lee Kun-hee.

Park's alleged chaebol extortion and bribery as well as illegal delegation of her presidential powers to Choi are the cornerstones of the impeachment case against her.

Then, there were strong hints that Park aides systematically refused the court's summons and obfuscated by lying or maintaining the right to keep silent, stymieing a prompt and smooth deliberation process.

The written reply by Park's defense team about her whereabouts in the first hours of the tragic Sewol ferry disaster was rejected by the court for lacking in substantiality. The Assembly's indictment against her includes her alleged failure to act effectively, losing a chance to rescue more people, also as grounds for her impeachment.

The nation has no stomach for more of her lies and gimmicks. If she wants to speak, she should speak under oath and show the least dignity expected from the holder of the highest elected office. Besides, for a head of state to speak to the press while impeachment procedures against him or her are under way is illegal, a precedent set by Roh Moo-hyun for inviting reporters on a mountaineering trip while he was relieved of power awaiting the ruling on his impeachment case.

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