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(EDITORIAL from The Korea Herald on Jan. 18)

All News 07:16 January 18, 2017

What Park has to do

It seems that President Park Geun-hye and other major players in the Choi Soon-sil scandal are making concerted efforts to dig in their heels as the independent counsel zeroes in on Park and the Constitutional Court moves into full swing for its impeachment review.

There have been news reports that Park, impeached by the National Assembly on Dec. 9, is considering meeting Blue House correspondents again. Park's aides were quoted as saying that she hopes to hold a news meeting before the Lunar New Year holiday that starts Jan. 27.

In all regards, any such meeting is unacceptable. Park should give up on the idea and instead present herself at the Constitutional Court if she has anything to say.

There are ample reasons why Park should not meet the media. First of all, it is illegal for Park, whose presidential duties and powers were suspended by the parliament's impeachment, to hold a news meeting.

None other than the Constitutional Court, which is now deliberating Park's impeachment, had made that clear in 2004 when it reviewed then-President Roh Moo-hyun's impeachment case.

Now Park's aides indicate she may meet reporters outside the Blue House and personally bear the costs of hosting such an event. It is another case in point of how unflagging Park is and how good she is at skirting the rules to go her own way.

It is obvious Park wants to use the media meeting to tell her side of the story, as she did on New Year's Day when she called an unexpected meeting with Blue House correspondents.

Park denied almost every allegation against her, saying that state prosecutors "framed her" and that she never committed wrongdoings that justify impeachment.

That was typical of Park, who has denied all major allegations against her and Choi, and insisted that her wrongdoings were not grave enough for her to be impeached, ever since the scandal broke out in October last year.

Park's move to engage the media again is seen as part of a well-orchestrated collective move to fight the investigation by the independent counsel and affect the deliberations of the Constitutional Court.

Signs abound. Key suspects such as Choi and Park's former top aides -- as if they were following a guideline -- refused to take the witness stand in the recent parliamentary hearings and the Constitutional Court hearings.

Only after the top court warned of a writ of summons did Choi attend a hearing Monday, but she denied the major allegations against her and Park. The fact that parliamentary and Constitutional Court officials could not deliver letters of summons to some of Park's former aides because they apparently went into hiding offers a clear demonstration of how evasive they are.

Even those who showed up at parliamentary and court hearings refused to tell the truth. Both Lee Young-sun, a presidential security staff, and Yoon Jeon-choo, a personal assistant to Park, worked closely with Choi, but they refused to talk about the details of what Choi did, saying such information was confidential.

Things like these raise suspicions that Park and other key suspects in the scandal are coordinating a "collective resistance." It may not be a coincidence that they are building up a seemingly united front as Park's supporters, who had not dared raise their voices in the initial stage of the scandal, are taking to the streets, sometimes in larger numbers than anti-Park protesters.

Park may be hoping that the latest developments will help turn the situation around. Judging from what she and her associates have been doing lately, it is obvious that they want to affect the independent counsel's investigation and the proceedings of the Constitutional Court in one way or another.

But the independent counsel and the court won't play into their hands. The counsel's decision to seek an arrest warrant for Samsung heir apparent Lee Jae-yong means that investigators believe Park and Choi were at the receiving end of bribes.

Park should realize that any more missteps -- such as pushing ahead with an illegal press meeting and further insisting on her innocence -- will only hasten her official demise.
(END)

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