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Gov. An apologizes for ‘good intention’ remark

Feb 22,2017
South Chungcheong Governor An Hee-jung apologized Tuesday for a remark two days earlier in which he said he believed President Park Geun-hye had “good intentions” in creating two foundations with her friend Choi Soon-sil.

“Many people have felt hurt from my remark [on Sunday], in which I cited an inappropriate case [involving President Park]. I am very sorry for causing concerns,” An told reporters in an attempt to put a growing controversy to rest.

The presidential hopeful found himself in hot water for a remark Sunday saying he believed President Park had “good intentions” for creating the Mi-R and K-Sports foundations.

The two foundations are at the heart of the corruption and abuse of power that led to Park’s impeachment and the arrests of presidential friend Choi and Samsung heir apparent Lee Jae-yong.

During a town-hall style meeting at Pusan National University in Busan on Sunday, the governor, who cracked the 20 percent approval rating range in the latest poll about presidential aspirants, made remarks that left Democratic Party supporters scratching their heads.

Referring to former President Lee Myung-bak and the embattled Park, he said, “They wanted to implement policies with good intentions for the good of the nation and the people,” and continued, “I believe President Park was involved in the creation of Mi-R and K-Sports foundations because of her wish to hold the PyeongChang Winter Olympics games successfully.”

An independent counsel investigating the scandal believes the two foundations were created by Choi and Park in collusion in an attempt to take in massive amounts of money from conglomerates in exchange for providing business favors. Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Group, the country’s biggest company, was arrested on Friday on charges of bribery for contributing money to the two foundations and to Choi directly.

Controversy erupted over An’s use of the word “good intentions.” An said later Sunday on Facebook that he was speaking “figuratively.”

“I wanted to stress that a decision making process that does not abide by the law and principles is wrong regardless of whatever good intentions it may have had,” said the 52-year-old governor, who has emerged as a formidable contender to frontrunner Moon Jae-in in the DP primary race.

On the controversy, Moon said that while he understood An’s rational for making such a remark, he said the governor forgot the anger felt by the people toward the Park government.

An admitted he did not convey a sense of anger in his remark, but said he had not meant to. “For a person to lead the country, rage is a feeling that one must treat very carefully because it could unleash a bloodbath if used by a leader,” An told his campaign staff Monday.

Politicians are waiting to see how An’s Sunday remark affects his approval rating in the next public opinion poll.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]