Former President Park’s Detention Extended for Additional Bribery Accusations

More corruption charges have come up against former President Park claiming she was receiving kickbacks from SK and Lotte in order to get a new warrant to keep her detained for up to six more months:

A Seoul court on Friday extended the detention of former President Park Geun-hye who stands trial in a massive corruption case that led to her ouster early this year.

The Seoul Central District Court approved an additional arrest warrant for Park, acknowledging that she may destroy evidence.

The fresh warrant allows authorities to keep her in detention for another six months, until April 16, 2018. Her initial arrest warrant was due to expire Monday. Prosecutors made the request late last month saying more time is needed to finish court procedures.

Given the gravity of the case and public concern, the prosecution has said it plans to finish the remaining court interrogations of witnesses before the end of this year to speed up the pace.

The court has held 80 trial sessions for Park’s case since May — four sessions every week since June.

She was removed from office and arrested in March on charges of bribery and abuse of power. She stands accused of colluding with her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil in taking some 43 billion won (US$37 million) from top conglomerates, including Samsung, and letting her friend meddle in state affairs.

The additional warrant has been issued based on the charges that were not included in the first warrant, in which the prosecution accused Park of taking or demanding kickbacks from two other conglomerates — SK and Lotte.  [Yonhap]

Blue House Attempting to Keep Former President Park Imprisoned By Bringing Back Sewol Allegations

Is it just me or is the detention of former President Park really beginning to stink with the Blue House suddenly finding documents in regards to the Sewol tragedy to hopefully keep her imprisoned?  I thought they had all this evidence of her corruption to keep her imprisoned?:

Presidential Chief of Staff Im Jong-seok shows the enlarged documents from the former Park Geun-hye administration that have allegedly been manipulated to falsify the time of the first report to Park on the Sewol ferry sinking in a press briefing held at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Oct. 12, 2017. (Yonhap)

The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Thursday that it has found documents from the former administration that show the former president may have lied about her role in dealing with the tragic sinking of the Sewol ferry three years ago.

The documents, found in the crisis management office at Cheong Wa Dae, included a daily journal from the office drafted April 16, 2014, when the passenger ferry sank in waters off the country’s western coast, killing more than 300 people, according to Im Jong-seok, the presidential chief of staff.

Im said the daily log showed the first report of the accident was made to then-President Park Geun-hye at 9:30 a.m., instead of at 10 a.m., as earlier claimed by the ousted leader and her aides.

The Cheong Wa Dae official said the document was revised Oct. 23, 2014, to say the first report was made at 10 a.m.

“The reason they pushed back the time of the first report to the president by half an hour appears to have been an attempt to reduce the time between the first report and Park’s first order, said to have been made at around 10:15 a.m.,” Im said at a press briefing, apparently suggesting a 45-minute gap between the first report and the first order would have aggravate criticism for her inaction during the accident that left 304 people dead.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.


Picture of the Day: Political Payback?

Ex-President Lee criticizes Moon's drive to remove past ills

Former President Lee Myung-bak (C) leaves his office in Seoul on Sept. 28, 2017, in this image taken from Yonhap News TV. Lee castigated President Moon Jae-in’s sweeping campaign to address the alleged misdeeds of previous governments. “I am watching these events unfolding in the name of eliminating the accumulated ills surrounding the previous governments, when the security situation is grave and people’s livelihoods are difficult,” Lee, who led the country from 2008-2013, wrote on Facebook the same day. (Yonhap)

People’s Party Member Arrested for Making False Allegations Against President Moon’s Son

An alleged dirty trick that was used against President Moon during the presidential campaign has led to one arrest and maybe more to come:

Lee You-mi, a member of minor opposition People’s Party, enters the courthouse in Seoul for a court review on the prosecution’s request of her arrest warrant over false allegations she made against President Moon Jae-in’s son on June 29, 2017. (Yonhap)

A member of a minor opposition party was arrested Thursday for making false allegations about President Moon Jae-in’s son during the election campaign earlier this year.

A Seoul court approved the prosecution’s request for the arrest warrant for Lee You-mi, a member of the People’s Party, on charges of spreading misinformation in violation of the election law.

Lee is accused of fabricating a story in the lead up to the May 9 presidential election about an unfair hiring of Moon Joon-yong by a public agency in late 2006, when his father was a presidential secretary.

She had been held in custody for questioning by the prosecution since early this week.

Lee reportedly confessed to creating the anonymous tip-off by concocting an audio file and a captured screenshot of mobile phone chat disguising them as records of conversation with a man claiming to be a friend of Joon-yong’s exposing the alleged preferred treatment.

Lee handed them to a former senior party official named Lee Jun-seo. The prosecution has barred the official from overseas travel on suspicions that he is behind the smearing scheme. The prosecution is set to summon him for questioning this week.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but according to the article the former Presidential candidate for the people’s party Ahn Cheol-soo has not commented on this allegation yet.  If a political party is going to try and play dirty tricks like this they had better hope they win because as we have seen before President’s in Korea will go after their enemies.

Blue House Official Criticized for Writing Book with Sexist Themes

Probably not the smartest move to write a book saying things like this and then expect to be involved in politics:

Tak Hyun-min

Cheong Wa Dae official Tak Hyun-min, who got into hot water last month over sexist remarks, is under more fire after another book he co-wrote featured similar sentiments.

In “The more I talk, the freer I become” he wrote: “I lost my virginity to a middle school student when I was in high school. She was not pretty, but it didn’t matter because she was just a sex object.”

He even said he had “shared” the student with his classmates.

He also said: “Men’s sexual fantasy is always with teachers … when I was a student, I would feel horny even with pregnant teachers.'”  (………)

Even female lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) have called for Tak’s resignation.  (…….)

“Guidebook of Men’s Mind” contained phrases such as: “It’s like a terror attack against men if a woman with a flat chest wears a tank top.”  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link, but both conservative and liberal parties in Korea are calling for Mr. Tak to resign.

President Moon Orders Investigation of Why THAAD Battery Was Deployed With All of Its Launchers

A standard THAAD battery comes with six launchers, you would think the President’s staff would know this, even Wikipedia knows this:

A Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery launcher is being installed on a former golf course in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province on Wednesday. /Yonhap

South Korea’s presidential office made it clear Tuesday that it has not received any formal briefing from the defense ministry on the presence of additional THAAD rocket launchers here.

The ministry said it has already briefed Cheong Wa Dae on the issue, responding to President Moon Jae-in’s call for a probe into the matter related to the allies’ missile defense system.

Moon said it’s “very shocking” that the ministry had kept secret or did not announce the introduction of four more THAAD rocket launchers, according to his spokesman Yoon Young-chan. The equipment arrived in Korea apparently weeks or months ago.

A ministry official, however, said Wee Seung-ho, deputy minister for policy, briefed Moon’s national security adviser Chung Eui-yong on pending defense issues last Friday.

“At that time, he reported the entry of four additional launchers (into South Korea),” the official said on the condition of anonymity, adding it reflects the ministry’s official position.

Moon’s office refuted the ministry’s statement.

There was no report on the extra THAAD launchers waiting to be installed at a former golf course in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province, which has been chosen as the THAAD site, said Cheong Wa Dae.

One thing that seems certain is that Moon did not receive any briefing on the subject during his visit to the ministry a week after taking office. It’s not clear whether he first raised the THAAD issue.

The State Affairs Planning Advisory Committee, a de-facto transition team for Moon, also said that it was told about only two THAAD launchers in operation, not about the other four, when receiving a briefing from the ministry.

The truth behind the dispute remains unconfirmed.  [Yonhap]

The Joong Ang Ilbo is reporting that the Defense Ministry may be trying avoid an environmental assessment for the four launchers:

“The president was briefed that four launchers, in addition to the two already installed in Seongju, were clandestinely brought in and stored in Korea,” Yoon Young-chan, senior secretary for public relations, said Tuesday. “Today, Moon ordered his senior secretary for civil affairs and chief of the national security office to conduct a thorough investigation over how the four additional launchers were brought in.”  (…….)

“Moon asked his aides to investigate why the four additional launchers were brought in, who made the decision, why it was not made public and why the new administration was not told about it,” Yoon said. “He also ordered that the investigation must look into the suspicion that the four launchers were kept secret in order to avoid an environmental impact assessment.”  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

If an environmental assessment was done for two launchers, what difference would four more make?  They have to tear up a few more putting greens to put them in?  It is not like an old growth rain forest needs to be cut down to put the launchers in.

You can read more at the link, but I would not be surprised if this is a political show to demonstrate to Moon’s supporters that the new administration is going to get tough on the Defense Ministry in regards to the THAAD deployment without actually changing the decision.

I guess we will see what happens.

President Moon Says He Will Pay for His Own Groceries

President Moon is very skilled politician because this announcement will go over very well with the Korean public:

President Moon Jae-in presides over a senior secretariat meeting in the Blue House on Thursday. It was the first meeting of its kind since President Moon was sworn in on May 10. [YONHAP]

President Moon Jae-in has decided he will not use the Blue House budget to pay for his private expenses, including groceries for his wife and himself and even food for his pets.

“From now on, meals that are not parts of official meetings will be paid from the president’s own money,” said Lee Joung-do, general affairs secretary of the Blue House. “We will stop using the state budget to pay for meals and personal purchases of the presidential family. It is the president’s strong will to clearly distinguish what should be paid with tax money and what should not.”

Until now, money from the special expense account of the Blue House was used to pay the living expense of the president and his family. Lee said Moon’s decision will save a considerable amount.

Special expenses accounts exist for almost all government ministries for activities that require confidentiality. Because no receipts are required, the accounts are often used for non-official purposes.

Although the Blue House did not make a comparison, the move appeared to be the latest in a series of actions taken by Moon to differentiate himself from predecessor Park Geun-hye.

A minor part of the presidential abuse of power and corruption scandal that led to Park’s impeachment and removal involved a personal health trainer she hired as a presidential secretary. Park used the special expenses account to pay for her clothes and beauty treatments. She saved most of her annual salary of 210 million won ($187,835).

According to Lee, 16.2 billion won was allocated to the special expense account of the Blue House this year. As of now, 12.7 billion won remains, and Moon wants to save 5.3 billion won to use for job creation for the young and programs for needy people.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

ROK Foreign Minister Nominee Asks Daughter To Give Up US Citizenship

This seems like a lot to ask of her daughter that grew up in the United States and has been a US citizen for over a decade:

Kang Kyung-wha

Foreign Minister nominee Kang Kyung-wha said Friday she expects her first daughter will give up her U.S. citizenship and switch to Korean soon.

“There will be a family meeting to discuss this matter,” Kang told reporters. “I think my daughter will decide to give up American nationality. What’s important is how she feels about it.”

Kang’s daughter, who was born and grew up in the U.S., chose to become American in 2006 when she was 22.

Her daughter’s nationality has emerged as a controversial point ahead of her confirmation hearing. Cheong Wa Dae earlier said it heard from Kang before she was nominated as the country’s first female foreign minister that her daughter may discard her U.S. nationality.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

Democratic Congress Members Call for Negotiations with North Korea

It is amazing to me that people continue to think that Pyongyang will negotiate away their nuclear weapons without the viable threat of military action against them.  They might as well as advocate for North Korea having nuclear weapons because that is what over two decades of negotiations has led to:

A group of 64 U.S. Democratic lawmakers warned President Donald Trump in a letter Tuesday that he would need congressional approval for any pre-emptive strike on North Korea and encouraged “direct” engagement with the isolationist regime.

“Few decisions are more needing of debate than a move to launch attacks, or declare war, on a nuclear-armed state such as North Korea,” stated the letter addressed to Trump. It went onto warn that an “inconsistent or unpredictable policy runs the risk of unimaginable conflict” with such a volatile country as North Korea.

The letter was signed by a group of congressmen in the House of Representatives led by Reps. John Conyers of Michigan, Barbara Lee of California and Jim McGovern of Massachusetts.

The lawmakers called for more information about what steps the administration is taking “to advance the prospects for direct negotiations that could lower the potential for catastrophic war and ultimately lead to the denuclearization of the peninsula.”

They continued, “In the event that your plans do include an ill-advised military component, we stand ready to exercise our constitutional duty to approve, or reject, any such military action.”

This comes amid concerns in Congress over the Trump administration’s erratic policy toward the North, as the U.S. president has declared “all option are on the table,” leaving a door open to military action including a pre-emptive strike. Trump has also said that he is open to talks with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un under the right conditions.

The congressmen underscored that while the U.S. Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973 provide the president the authority to act in cases of emergencies, “both require an affirmative authorization from Congress before our nation engages in military action abroad against a state that has not attacked the U.S. or our assets abroad.”

The letter stressed the past three U.S. administrations under presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton ruled out the possibility of military action against Pyongyang and “ultimately determined there was no military option that would not run the unacceptable risk of counter-reaction from Pyongyang.”

Such retaliation from the North, it pointed out, could endanger as many as a third of the South Korean population, nearly 30,000 U.S. troops in the region as well as over 100,000 U.S. citizens living in Korea.

The congressmen encouraged Trump to adhere to a diplomatic approach, expressing support for U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent statement that his preferred method for resolution is “direct talks with North Korea,” persuading the North that they do not need nuclear weapons to secure the existence of the regime. They also backed Tillerson’s remarks reassuring Pyongyang that Washington did not seek a regime change in the North or its collapse.

“President Trump’s irresponsible statements on North Korea endanger our troops, our regional allies such as South Korea and Japan, and global security more broadly,” said Conyers, dean of the House of Representatives and one of two remaining Korean War veterans serving in the U.S. Congress, in a press release. “As someone who has watched this conflict evolve since I was sent to Korea as a young Army lieutenant, it is a reckless, inexperienced move to threaten military action that could end in devastation instead of pursuing vigorous diplomacy.”  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.