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(LEAD) Parties, presidential contenders show mixed reactions to Park's arrest

All Headlines 09:54 March 31, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES with reactions of other presidential contenders in paras 9-14; CHANGES headline; MINOR edits throughout; ADDS photo, caption)

SEOUL, March 31 (Yonhap) -- Political parties and presidential contenders showed mixed reactions after former President Park Geun-hye was arrested Friday in connection with a corruption scandal that led to her removal from office.

Park's Liberty Korea Party said in a statement the arrest is "truly regrettable" and voiced hope that such a "painful history" won't repeat itself.

Former President Park Geun-hye (C) is taken to a detention center south of Seoul on March 31, 2017, after a court issued a warrant for her arrest over a corruption scandal. (Yonhap)

The Democratic Party, which was the main opposition party before Park was ousted on March 10, said the court decision was a natural result based on the strictness of the law and principles.

"Everyone is equal before the law," said Youn Kwan-suk, the party's chief spokesman.

He accused Park of being the core and body of the corruption scandal involving her friend Choi Soon-sil, and called for the truth to be revealed.

Park is suspected of colluding with Choi to extort donations from local conglomerates, including Samsung, which prosecutors view as bribes.

A spokesman for the Democratic Party's leading presidential contender Moon Jae-in hailed the decision as the first step to rebuilding a collapsed nation.

"Former President Park's arrest amounts to upholding the people's stern order to build a nation where justice and common sense stand firm," Park Kwang-on, his spokesman, said in a statement. "Now we will turn a page of our painful history and gather our strengths to build a fair and clean nation."

Moon Jae-in (L) of the Democratic Party waves to supporters after winning a primary in the central city of Daejeon on March 29, 2017. South Chungcheong Province Gov. An Hee-jung is seen to his right. (Yonhap)

Other liberal contenders in the race for the top elected office expressed similar views.

South Chungcheong Province Gov. An Hee-jung of the Democratic Party said through his spokesman that the arrest represents the beginning of the end of "old politics" and called for a new era.

Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo of the centrist People's Party claimed the former president brought on her own fate by lying and failing to show remorse over her deeds.

An and Ahn have been fighting for second place in recent polls conducted ahead of the May 9 election. Their approval ratings have hovered in the 10-percent range, trailing behind Moon's ratings in the 30s.

South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Hong Joon-pyo of the Liberty Korea Party, the leading contender of the conservative camp, heralded an end to the Park Geun-hye era.

"I hope (Park) will act honorably as a former president," he wrote on his Facebook page. "I also hope the people will forgive former President Park Geun-hye."

The splinter Bareun Party, which broke away from the Liberty Korea Party, said it respects the court's decision but questioned whether Park's arrest was necessary in terms of healing national divisions caused by the scandal.

It expressed bitterness over the "unfortunate" incident that has swamped the nation and pledged to do its best to rebuild what it called the true conservatives.

The People's Party welcomed the arrest as a natural consequence under the Constitution and the law, and called for a revision of the government system centered on the president to prevent a recurrence of such scandals.


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