SKorean president chooses new chief of staff

Park Geun-hye brings in more fresh faces despite growing calls for her own resignation over evolving political scandal

SKorean president chooses new chief of staff

World Bulletin / News Desk

South Korean President Park Geun-hye named a new chief of staff Thursday, filling a vacancy that was created last week when a number of top aides resigned over a furor that has led to intensifying demands for Park herself to quit.

The president is being widely criticized for secretly giving power over state affairs to a private citizen, her scandal-hit confidante Choi Soon-sil.

A day after nominating a left-leaning prime minister to take greater control of the government, the ostensibly conservative Park followed a similar vein in choosing Han Gwang-ok as her chief of staff.

Han, 74, held the same position under late liberal icon Kim Dae-jung and has also been working with the current president on a committee for national cohesion.

He told reporters that he will “support the president at this difficult time”, while being hailed by a Blue House spokesperson for his “values of reconciliation”.

Park has additionally brought in ex-journalist Hur Won-je to serve as senior secretary for political affairs.

But her efforts have not convinced many opposition politicians who view the appointments as a deflection strategy.

Buoyed by Park’s recent single-digit approval rating and nationwide protests, more lawmakers demanded that the president step down Thursday -- including from the main opposition Democratic Party for the first time.

Six party representatives released a statement warning of a “disaster” if she does not walk away before her term is due to end in February 2018.

Further developments are expected this week with prosecutors seeking an arrest warrant for Park’s confidante Choi and placing another now former aide -- An Chong-bum -- under emergency detention.

Choi and An are suspected of working together to pressure companies to donate tens of millions of dollars to nonprofit foundations -- the former is accused of abusing her influence for financial gain and securing preferential treatment at a top Seoul university for her daughter.

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Last Mod: 03 Kasım 2016, 09:40
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