World Bulletin / News Desk
Park confirmed an earlier report that she had received help from old acquaintance Choi Soon-sil and effectively leaked drafts of presidential speeches in the process of seeking advice from her.
“I deeply apologize to the people,” Park told a press briefing.
“During the last presidential election campaign, she offered me personal comments about my campaign activities, mostly speeches and publicity efforts.”
Although the president insisted that she no longer asks for such assistance from Choi, the revelation that the latter could have been pulling strings behind Park has alarmed onlookers.
Speeches in question include Park’s famous Dresden declaration on unification with North Korea back in 2014, according to local broadcaster JTBC which found claims to have found relevant files in a discarded computer at Choi’s office.
The fact that Park felt the need to speak publicly on the scandal has provoked surprise considering it has been more than a year since her last national address aside from a New Year’s speech.
Choi’s family connections to Park’s late father Park Chung-hee – both revered and reviled for his authoritarian rule – have drawn close attention to the aide in question.
But she made headlines in recent days due to her role in the creation of two corruption scandal-hit non-profit foundations and allegations that her daughter received an easy ride with entry and subsequent grading at one of Seoul’s top universities.
Such is the level of political furore that opposition lawmakers are calling for a full investigation and a Cabinet reshuffle, even though it would be challenging to bring forward charges over the leaked speech drafts alone as they would likely not be viewed legally as official presidential records.
“There may be political repercussions of getting feedback from someone other than her staff and advisor, but it may be hard to make a criminal case out of this,” a local judge was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency.