South Korea's President apologises for seeking friend's advice

World Tuesday 25/October/2016 16:51 PM
By: Times News Service
South Korea's President apologises for seeking friend's advice

Seoul: South Korean President Park Geun-hye made a rare public apology on Tuesday for showing a friend drafts of speeches, as she sought to refocus attention on a proposal to amend the constitution so that presidents can serve more than one term.
Television network JTBC reported late on Monday that drafts of Park's speeches from 2012 to early 2014 had been found in the computer used by the friend, Choi Soon-sil. The drafts were received hours and days before the remarks were publicly delivered.
During recent weeks, media reports have alleged that Choi wielded inappropriate influence over Park and that she used her acquaintance with the president to benefit her family and business partners.
Park said in a televised address from the presidential Blue House that she had received feedback from Choi early in her term over how well she was communicating ideas, but said she had stopped seeking this advice once her office was fully staffed.
"I had done it out of the sincere intention to be more meticulous in looking over things, but whatever the intention was, I am sorry I have caused concern among the people and caused alarm and heartache," she said, bowing deeply.
The reports of the speeches came hours after Park delivered proposals for constitutional amendment to allow presidents to serve multiple terms or establish a parliamentary system, saying the single-term presidency has served its purpose.
The reports suggesting Choi had early access to Park's speeches and personnel decisions before they were made public immediately dominated the news cycle, however, overshadowing the president's major reform proposal.
The controversy has led some opposition members of parliament to question Park's motive for making a sudden proposal as significant as constitutional reform, although it was welcomed by her Saenuri Party.
Currently, South Korean presidents are barred from serving more than one five-year term.
Choi was seen in photographs with Park from 1979 when the president, as eldest daughter of then-President Park Chung-hee, was filling in for her mother who had been killed five years earlier by an assassin who had meant to kill her father.
Her father, who took power in a military coup in 1961, was shot dead by his disgruntled spy chief later in 1979.
Choi was someone "who gave me help when I was going through a difficult time," Park said in her brief televised address.
Park, whose term ends in February 2018, is suffering her lowest public support ratings since she took office in 2013.