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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on April 14)

Editorials from Korean dailies 07:43 April 14, 2022

Stop engaging in politics
Former president hit for influencing election

President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol visited disgraced former President Park Geun-hye at her residence in Dalseong County, Daegu, Tuesday. During their 50-minute meeting, Yoon expressed regret over his role as a member of the independent counsel team that investigated and indicted her for her involvement in a corruption scandal. He invited her to his May 10 inauguration ceremony, and Park made a positive response to the invitation.

Yoon told Park that he has been sorry about the bad relations between them, according to People Power Party (PPP) lawmaker Kwon Young-se, vice chairman of Yoon's transition team, who accompanied and briefed the meeting to reporters. Park's lawyer and close associate Yoo Yeong-ha, who also attended the meeting, said Park listened quietly to Yoon without making any comments. Kwon said the meeting proceeded in a very friendly and warm atmosphere.

The meeting drew huge attention as it was seen as Yoon's gesture to come to terms with Park despite their ill-fated relationship. Yoon played a leading role in investigating the corruption case in 2016 that resulted in Park's impeachment and imprisonment. Convicted of corruption and abuse of power, Park was sentenced to 22 years in prison. She was released on a special pardon on New Year's Eve after serving four years and nine months in jail.

We hope the meeting will help promote national unity. Yet, criticism has arisen as the meeting came when Park is actively supporting Yoo who declared his bid to run for Daegu mayor. Park made statements in support of Yoo on YouTube. PPP Rep. Hong Joon-pyo, who is also vying for the mayoral post, said in his Facebook account that the "Daegu mayoral election has turned into a race of currying favor with the former president, rather than a competition of policies."

It is not proper for Park to exercise her influence over any election. She should keep a low profile and refrain from engaging in politics. If she tries to flex her political muscle behind the scenes, she will disappoint the people who vividly remember her misdeeds that led to her ouster and denigrate the meaning of the special pardon granted to her. Yoon also deserves criticism for attempting to woo Park's supporters and residents in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province, a power base of conservative forces, ahead of the June 1 local elections.

We urge Park to stop engaging in politics. She has yet to make a sincere apology for her wrongdoings to the people. Yoon also should refrain from cozying up to Park further, which might prompt a backlash from progressives. They should remember that some civic organizations last year fiercely opposed the special pardon on Park, describing it as a retreat from democracy and the rule of law. Park should not do anything that goes against national unity and harmony.

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