Seoul: South Korean President Park Geun-hye will not respond to a request by prosecutors to question her this week, her lawyer said on Monday, amid a deepening political crisis over a close friend accused of meddling in state affairs.
Park is under intense pressure to step down over the scandal that has rocked her presidency, leaving her administration struggling with a power vacuum. Momentum to try to impeach her is growing in parliament.
The lawyer, Yoo Yeong-ha, said Park had to deal with the "fast-moving situation" and so there was little time for her to cooperate with prosecutors, who had asked to question the president by Tuesday.
"It is regrettable that the president cannot cooperate with face-to-face questioning the prosecutors have asked for by Nov.29," Yoo said in a statement.
Park will prepare for an investigation by a special prosecutor that is expected next month, instead of responding to the current investigation, the lawyer had said earlier.
The friend, Choi Soon-sil, and a former aide have been indicted, and Park was named as an accomplice in an investigation by state prosecutors for pressuring big business to contribute money to foundations set up to back her policies.
The presidential office and Park's lawyer have denied the prosecutors' accusation.
About 1.5 million South Koreans rallied on Saturday in central Seoul in the largest of a series of demonstrations since the 1987 movement to democratize the Asian country, rally organizers said, calling for Park's resignation.
Park is facing allegations that her friend used her ties to the leader to wield improper influence.
In a public apology this month, Park said she would make herself available to any investigations, including that by the special prosecutor, adding that she would take responsibility if found guilty.
Parliament has passed a bill for the special prosecutor to be nominated by the two main opposition parties and formally appointed by Park.