Shamanism Creates Setback for President Park's Cabinet Reshuffle

Shamanism Creates Setback for President Park's Cabinet Reshuffle

SEOUL, Nov. 9 (Yonhap) -- The nominee for minister of public safety and security on Wednesday declined the nomination amid rising criticisms over his participation in controversial shamanistic rituals, in another setback for the Park Geun-hye government hit by a massive corruption scandal. 

In a press conference held late Wednesday night, Park Seung-joo, nominated a week ago to head the Ministry of Public Safety and Security, said, "I will lay down the minister nominee position and return to continue personality education activities for young people."

Park, who served as vice minister of the Ministry of Gender Equality & Family under the 2003-07 Roh Moo-hyun administration, was appointed public safety minister last Wednesday.

The nomination was part of a cabinet reshuffle by the Park government which is struggling to placate mounting public anger over a massive influence-peddling scandal involving the president's longtime personal confidante Choi Soon-sil.'

But the appointment immediately faced the criticism that Park was not qualified for the position due to his inappropriate behavior.

In the press conference, he acknowledged and made an apology for the inappropriate acts, saying he "unknowingly" participated in a shamanistic event in May and "unwittingly" plagiarized his doctorate dissertation.

A day earlier, President Park had no other option but to discard her choice for prime minister, Kim Byong-joon, as opposition parties strongly denounced the president's personal reshuffles as a tactic to divert attention away from her scandal. 

In the influence-peddling scandal, Choi allegedly wielded unhealthy influence over Park and pushed businesses to make donations to two foundations that she controlled. Last week, she was arrested on charges of fraud and abuse of power.

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