Pro-Park Activists Wave US and Israeli Flags During Protest

It does seem pretty weird that the pro-Park protesters are waving US and Israelis flags which have absolutely nothing to do with the corruption scandal that caused her impeachment:

Controversy is brewing over the use of U.S. and Israeli flags by supporters of the impeached President Park Geun-hye during their weekend rallies that have nothing to do with the countries.

Right-wing groups have organized these rallies to counter much-larger demonstrations demanding Park’s removal from power by the Constitutional Court.

Pro-Park counterprotesters have waved the Korean national flag, or Taegeukgi, at the rallies, which they call “Taegeukgi rallies” themselves. Lately, they have also been bringing U.S. and Israeli flags to the political events.

The participants claim it is a way to show their “patriotism,” but criticism is prevalent that the flags are being misused.

Several protesters, who are mainly in their 60s or older, have been waving the Korean and U.S. flags together in a bid to underscore the Korea-U.S. security alliance against “North Korean sympathizers.”

Some others, who call themselves devout churchgoers, have brought the Israeli flag with a wooden cross and other symbols they think can represent their faith.

But critics said Monday that such expressions may only stir up misunderstandings toward the U.S and Israel as well as Christianity.

The U.S. and Israeli embassies in Seoul were not available for comment.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

A Detailed History of the Park Geun-hye Presidential Scandal

The below article from The Diplomat is a really good article that details the complexities and key players of the current ROK presidential crisis.  Like I have always said if it wasn’t for the tablet PC that JTBC News acquired the impeachment likely never would have happened due to the all the backroom deals in place to keep things quiet:

As someone living in Korea and having watched history unfold these last few months, it has been impossible to shake the feeling the media did what the Prosecution Service was reluctant to do. Without media involvement, the engagement of bystanders, and the propinquity of various storylines coming together, it appears possible and even likely the Choi Soon-sil scandal would have been snuffed out like so many other allegations before it. It was only after Park had been impeached and a special prosecutor assigned that more proper investigations began, culminating in the parliamentary hearings and the shocking indictment of Samsung’s chief, Lee Jae-yong. The courts, unfortunately, have yet to demonstrate a change from the norm, flatly denying the special prosecutor’s request for a warrant to arrest Lee, citing “a lack of evidence” despite overwhelming media coverage and Lee’s own admissions in parliamentary hearings to the contrary.

Based on the evidence presented here and in those hearings, it becomes difficult to view the current presidential scandal as a single, isolated incident. Instead, the picture painted depicts a deeply embedded tradition of backdoor dealings on an epidemic scale affecting all levels of government, especially the very bureaus that should be overseeing justice. Beyond influence-peddling, the scandal extends to strong-arm tactics to suppress the truth by manipulating the press, questionable due process in the courts, and possible tampering with the Prosecution Service.

Had it not been for Choi Soon-sil’s tablet, Park may have never been impeached.  [The Diplomat]

I highly recommend reading the whole thing at the link.  By the way I don’t think I will ever buy another Nature Republic product ever again after reading about the shadiness of its CEO in the article.

Satirical Nude Painting of Park Geun-hye Leads to Clash In Yeouido

This seems to me to be pretty sexist because I cannot remember a male Korean president being depicted like this and celebrated by an opposition party:

Some people, presumed to be members of a conservative civic group, rush to the assembly building in Yeouido, western Seoul, on Tuesday to damage the painting “Dirty Sleep” by flinging it to the ground. [YONHAP]

After the display of a satirical painting depicting a nude President Park Geun-hye the main opposition Democratic Party on Tuesday decided to refer its lawmaker, Pyo Chang-won, to its ethics panel for hosting the exhibition.

About 20 people, presumed to be members of a conservative civic group, rushed on Tuesday to the lobby of the Lawmakers’ Office Building attached to the National Assembly in Yeouido, western Seoul, where the painting was on display, to damage the painting titled “Dirty Sleep” by flinging it to the ground.

The artists participating in the exhibition, including Lee Guyeong, who made the painting, then gathered at the building to issue a statement demanding compensation for the damages and respect for freedom of expression.

The exhibition started on Friday and the painting quickly became the talk of the town.

The painting’s composition is generally based on the 19th-century French painter Edouard Manet’s famous “Olympia”(1863).

In it, Park is lying on a bed and her long-time friend, Choi Soon-sil, is offering up a bouquet of syringes while the Sewol ferry is seen out a window sinking into the sea.

The painting portrays the suspicion that Park was sleeping or receiving cosmetic treatment during the April 2014 Sewol ferry sinking. Park’s head is combined with a nude body from the painting “Sleeping Venus”(1510) by Italian Renaissance master Giorgione, which inspired Titian’s “Venus of Urbino” and later Manet’s “Olympia.” Unlike in “Olympia,” which is distinguished by the woman looking directly at the viewer, in the new work Park looks down, as if in shame.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

ROK Constitutional Court to Issue Impeachment Ruling by March 13th

It looks like the impeachment ruling by the ROK Constitutional Court will be issued by March 13th.  If the impeachment is confirmed a new election will happen up to 60 days later which means early May could see the next Presidential election happen:

Park Han-chul, Constitutional Court chief justice

Constitutional Court President Park Han-chul said Wednesday that the court should make a ruling on President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment by March 13.

The call for a speedier decision reflects concerns that the impeachment trial might not be completed as two out of nine justices are soon to retire. [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

President Park Says Scandal Composed of “Fiction and Lies”

President Park’s association with Choi Soon-sil has long been known and I think a lot of people outside her administration suspected Choi was up to no good.  However, I don’t think this scandal would have blown up the way it has if it wasn’t for the tablet computer found in Choi’s old office by JTBC News.  In my opinion that tablet computer that confirmed what a lot people already believed is really what caused this scandal, not some gigantic left wing conspiracy:

President Park Geun-hye called the massive corruption scandal involving her and her confidant Choi Soon-sil a “huge mountain heaped up with lies” in an interview Wednesday.

It was her first interview with the media since she was impeached over the influence-peddling scandal Dec. 9. To defend herself, the President opted for a podcast program, “Jeong Kyu-jae TV” operated by the chief editor of the Korea Economic Daily, a conservative website, instead of major newspapers or broadcasters.

In the one-hour interview, Park said she felt that the scandal had been plotted for a long time. “It seems the ongoing things are not accidental,” she said. But when asked whether she thought specific figures might have plotted it, she declined to comment.

She also denied all allegations and rumors surrounding her, such as she shared an economic interest with Choi, that she frequently used propofol, and that she had an affair with her former aide Chung Yoon-hoi, Choi’s ex-husband.

“The series of nonsense show how misunderstanding, fiction and lies are piled up,” she said. “Such huge lies show how weak the grounds for my impeachment were.”

Park said Choi was a longtime friend who helped her, but she came to know many new things about her as the scandal emerged, implying she did not know _ and was not involved in _ Choi’s alleged corruption.  [Korea Times via a reader tip]

You can read more at the link.

Former Minister Testifies that President Park Ordered Government Support for Chung Yoo-ra

If the testimony is true, you would think the President would have better things to do than spend time ordering her government minister to establish a program to help an equestrian athlete:

Kim Chong

President Park Geun-hye made a straightforward and specific order to offer systemic government support for her friend’s daughter’s athletic career, a former vice minister in charge of sports policy revealed Monday.

Kim Chong, former vice minister of culture, sports and tourism, testified in the morning at the Constitutional Court’s eighth hearing to determine whether to remove Park from office.

He said Park cited the need for government support for Chung Yoo-ra, the 20-year-old daughter of her longtime friend, Choi Soon-sil, during their meeting in January 2015. “It was shocking because the president outright mentioned her name,” Kim said.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read the rest at the link.

President Park To Sue Joong Ang Ilbo Newspaper for Defamation

Could you imagine how many lawsuits the Trump administration would have against the American media if libel laws in the US were similar to South Korea?:

President Park Geun-hye decided to sue the JoongAng Ilbo and its source from the independent counsel team on charges of defamation over a report that she ordered the government to create a blacklist of artists critical of her administration to control public sentiment in the aftermath of the Sewol ferry’s sinking in 2014.

Hwang Seong-wook, a lawyer of Park in her impeachment trial, said Saturday that she never ordered anyone to make the so-called blacklist of artists and cultural figures.

In his text message to reporters, Hwang also said Park decided to file criminal and civil suits against journalists and other members of the JoongAng Ilbo for defaming her with its report.

The president is also suing a member of the independent counsel who was quoted in the report as a source.

“Those who frequently make false reports under the shadow of anonymity must stop manipulating the press,” Hwang said. “We also urge the press to report only confirmed, objective facts.”

On the front page of Saturday’s edition, the JoongAng Ilbo, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily, published an exclusive report saying that Park was behind the blacklist scandal.

The report said independent counsel Park Young-soo and his team have so far concluded that the creation of the list started about one month after the tragic ferry accident, which led to the death of 306 people due to the delayed government rescue efforts.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

Picture of the Day: Protesters Rally In Front of President Park’s Home

Urging raid of Park's private home

Members of the Labor Party hold a rally in front of President Park Geun-hye’s private house in southern Seoul on Jan. 16, 2017, to call on the special prosecutor team to raid it as part of an investigation into Park’s alleged involvement in a corruption scandal that led to her impeachment. (Yonhap)

President Park Used Phone Registered Under Another Name

It will be interesting to see if President Park can be held legally liable for this if she didn’t know the phone was not registered properly in her name:

President Park Geun-hye has a mobile phone under a borrowed name, a former aide said during her impeachment trial Thursday, revealing an act that is punishable by law.

Jeong Ho-seong is escorted by officers as he arrives at the Constitutional Court in Seoul on Jan. 19, 2017. (Yonhap)

Jeong Ho-seong, a former presidential secretary, made the revelation while testifying at the Constitutional Court about an influence-peddling scandal centered on Park and her friend Choi Soon-sil.

According to Jeong, Park used such a phone even as a lawmaker prior to becoming president out of concerns about wiretapping and security in general. The former aide began serving Park in the late 90s. He is known as a member of the “doorknob trio” who had direct access to the president.

“It’s a rather painful side of our politics, but there has long been controversy about wiretapping,” he said in response to a question from a parliamentary impeachment panel, which serves as the prosecution in the trial. “We didn’t use (phones) registered under our names because of the risk of our conversations being tapped.”

South Korea bans the use of phones under borrowed names for most purposes and violations of that law can be punished with up to three years in prison or up to 100 million won (US$85,000) in fines.

Asked whether Park was aware that her phone was registered under a borrowed name, Jeong said she probably used whatever phone was given to her.

He denied that Choi ordered the use of such phones.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.