Blue House Continues to Deny Rumors of President Park's Plastic Surgery
SEOUL, Nov. 17 (Yonhap) -- The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on Thursday denied a fresh allegation that an Army nurse visited President Park Geun-hye during her alleged seven-hour absence on the day of a ferry disaster in 2014.
The allegation came amid persistent rumors that Park might have undergone plastic surgery or other medical procedures, which detractors allege could have led to her failure to properly cope with the sinking of the ferry Sewol that left more than 300 passengers dead or missing.
"There were no records that showed an Army nurse from the Armed Forces Capital Hospital entering Cheong Wa Dae (on April 16, 2014 when the tragedy occurred)," Jung Youn-kuk, presidential spokesman, told reporters.'
"We checked this with the presidential medical and security offices," he added.
The rumors about the "seven missing hours" have continued to dog the president as the bereaved families of the victims, mostly young students, have claimed that the government's inept handling of the disaster resulted in heavy casualties.
Repudiating such claims, the presidential office has said that Park received 15 briefings on the tragedy on the day of the sinking while carrying out her official duties. It has consistently rejected all suggestions that Park did not do her utmost during the ferry tragedy.
Cheong Wa Dae also denied the accusation that Park had ordered a thorough probe into a separate corruption case -- surrounding the ongoing construction of LCT, a 101-story building in the southern port city of Busan -- in order to "dilute" an influence-peddling scandal involving her confidante.
"(The order for a probe) is aimed at preventing confusion that could be caused by groundless allegations," the presidential spokesman said. The official said that all suspicions linking LCT to the president are false.
At the center of the LCT case is Lee Young-bok, who led the mammoth construction project. Lee, currently under detention, is alleged to have created a slush fund of some 57 billion won (US$ 48.7 million) to illicitly lobby a number of politicians and government officials so he could build the skyscraper overlooking Haeundae Beach.
On Wednesday, Park Jie-won, the interim leader of the minor opposition People's Party, raised the allegation that one of the president's associates is involved in the LCT scandal, although he cited no names.