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Presidential incitements

Mar 02,2017
President Park Geun-hye on Tuesday sent a letter to her loyalists to express her sincere appreciation for their support. The Blue House explained that the letter was a reply to an earlier letter sent by the pro-Park civilian group to congratulate Park on her birthday on Feb. 2.

But Park chose a very sensitive time — a day before the group embarked on a massive rally in downtown Seoul to protest her impeachment by the National Assembly. Other protesters held a large-scale rally nearby demanding she step down.

Park sending a “Thank You” letter to her loyalists cannot but be interpreted as a message to encourage them to rally to pressure the Constitutional Court to hand down a final ruling that dismisses the legislature’s Dec. 9 impeachment. There’s another smoking gun. A Blue House official made a telephone call on her behalf to the head of the pro-Park group to deliver a message aimed at encouraging her supporters.

We are shocked at the way President Park has behaved. On March 1, the 98th anniversary of the Independence Movement against Japan’s colonial rule, both camps were supposed to stage their largest-ever rallies with the pro-Park group holding national flags and the anti-Park group holding candles. Both sides were about to confront each other in a full-fledged way ahead of the highest court’s upcoming ruling on her fate. The president must have been well aware of the gravity of the issue. Yet she has made public her sending of a letter of appreciation to the group.

Park refused to accept requests from the prosecution, independent counsel and the Constitutional Court that she appear before them for investigations into her involvement in the unprecedented abuse of power scandal triggered by her friend Choi Soon-sil. Instead, Park chose a conversation with Blue House correspondents and an interview with a conservative Internet program to plead her innocence, followed by the suspicious letter sent to her loyalists. We are deeply embarrassed to see a president backpedaling on her vows to respect the law despite her frequent appointments of lawyers to top government positions.

The president must look at the situation squarely. Even if she encourages her loyalists to stage a fiery protest, it cannot delay the trial at the Constitutional Court or turn the tide. If her moves annoy the court, they can even backfire.

Does Park want the nation to head toward catastrophe due to her irresponsible words and actions? We hope the president stops such incitements.

JoongAng Ilbo, March 2, Page 30