UPDATE : 2019.7.15 MON 18:50
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Park considers additional meetings with press: aide

SEOUL, Jan. 2 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye is considering holding additional meetings with the press to rebut a slew of corruption allegations against her, an aide said Monday, in an apparent move to rally her core supporters and counter public anger over the scandal that has gripped the country for the past few months.

A day earlier, Park held a New Year's meeting with journalists, where she once again denied all accusations related to the political scandal revolving around her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil.

This photo, taken on Jan. 1, 2017, shows suspended President Park Geun-hye holding a meeting with the press at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul. (Yonhap)

"We believe President Park should respond (to the allegations) with a truthful voice if necessary. She will (have press meetings) appropriately when she thinks it is the right time to do so," a presidential official told Yonhap News Agency over the phone, declining to be identified.

"She must convey the truth in the face of all the warped, exaggerated media reports," he added.

The source said that Park has checked if her contact with the press during her suspension would violate any laws, and that the president believes it is okay to explain her position to the media in light of her defense against a plethora of accusations.

Her media campaign came as the Constitutional Court is accelerating its review of the impeachment case. The court will determine whether to unseat or reinstate her after its review which could last up to six months.

Some observers said that she might anticipate being able to ease public anger at her as time goes by, given that a series of recent polls found that up to 17 percent of the people the questioned are in favor of the court's rejection of her impeachment. At one point, her approval ratings fell to as low as five percent.

Amid Park's moves to openly defend herself, opposition politicians ramped up their offensive on the president.

"Park should actively respond to the probe by the independent counsel, rather than carrying out a clumsy media campaign," Rep. Choo Mi-ae, the leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, said during a meeting with senior party officials.

Some others took issue with Park's press meeting, saying it is inappropriate for the suspended head of state to hold such a meeting that consumes public funds allotted for presidential duties.

However, presidential officials said that considering that the president still maintains her status as the head of state, there is no legal problem.

Meanwhile, Busan Mayor Suh Byung-soo, regarded as a loyalist to Park, criticized the media for churning out reports about Park that he argues are "hardly believable."

"President Park is a person that clearly draws the line between public and private affairs," he said in a meeting with members of the Busan-based chapter of the ruling Saenuri Party.



Park So-yeon  edt@koeapost.com

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