SKorea finance chiefs brace for more political drama

Finance leaders preparing for an emergency as head of ruling Saenuri Party announces he will step down

SKorea finance chiefs brace for more political drama

World Bulletin / News Desk

South Korea’s leading finance officials were preparing for an emergency Monday, as the head of the ruling Saenuri Party announced he would step down amid calls for the president to follow suit.

Financial Services Commission (FSC) chief Yim Jong-yong -- recently nominated as finance minister -- likened the circumstances to “stepping on thin ice”.

The FSC has opened an emergency situation room with the Financial Supervisory Service to monitor markets, according to local news agency Yonhap, following developments that saw President Park Geun-hye’s Gallup Korea approval rating plunge to just five percent last week.

Two now former aides of Park were arrested over the weekend for their connection to power abuse allegations centering on the president’s unofficial confidante Choi Soon-sil, who is also being detained.

She could become the first sitting South Korean president to be investigated after she said she would cooperate with prosecutors if needed during a public apology on Friday.

While suspicions have been mounting that Park allowed Choi to govern state affairs and to pressure conglomerates to donate tens of millions of dollars, so far the president has only admitted to sending speech drafts to be checked by her old friend.

Prosecutors revealed Monday that they have found a recorded phone conversation among several items of evidence that link Choi to the presidential office despite her status as a private citizen.

Even after two televised apologies by Park, up to 200,000 protesters held a demonstration in Seoul on Saturday to demand her resignation.

However, the working week instead began with an announcement from the head of the ruling party, which has been torn apart by a faction opposed to the president.

Saenuri chairperson Lee Jung-hyun said he would quit in the “near future” once he has first supported Park, who led the party herself before rising to the top office in 2013.

Meanwhile, the military declared that it is ready for a North Korean provocation around the time of this week’s election in the United States.

“We are closely watching every move by the North Korean military at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site and other possible missile-launching sites,” a Joint Chiefs of Staff official told reporters.

The defense ministry added that the country’s political situation would not affect security matters including the planned deployment of a contentious American missile defense system that has been resisted by opposition lawmakers.

Last Mod: 07 Kasım 2016, 09:28
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