Blue House Refutes Rumors, Says President Park was in her Office during 2014 Ferry Disaster
SEOUL, Nov. 19 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye carried out her official duties mostly in a private office inside her residence during the 2014 ferry disaster, her office Cheong Wa Dae said Saturday, dismissing persistent rumors about her whereabouts on the day of the tragedy.
Cheong Wa Dae said that Park received briefings or issued directives, related to the tragedy, some 30 times on April 16 when the ferry Sewol sank in waters off the southwestern island of Jindo, leaving some 300 passengers, mostly young students, dead or missing.
It marks the first time that the presidential office has clarified through it's website Park's exact location on the day of the sinking. Cheong Wa Dae posted such information on its official website where it created a section dedicated to "correcting false reports and rumors."
Despite the presidential office's repeated denials, rumors have persisted that during the "seven missing hours" on the tragic day, Park might have undergone plastic surgery or other medical procedures, which detractors allege could have led to her failure to properly handle the disaster.
"Malicious stories and erroneous news reports are attributing the ferry disaster to the seven missing hours, and this is adding to national confusion," Cheong Wa Dae said in its posting on its website.
To corroborate its claim that Park carried out her official schedule for seven hours from 10:30 a.m. on the day of the disaster, Cheong Wa Dae repeated Park received a series of briefings from the National Security Office and the office of the senior presidential secretary for political affairs.
Over the past week, the presidential office has been striving to stem the spread of rumors against the embattled president who has been striving to pull herself out of a political crisis sparked by a corruption and influence-peddling scandal involving her confidante.
Cheong Wa Dae has called for media prudence, arguing most allegations against Park are "groundless."
Meanwhile, Ahn Cheol-soo, former co-chair of the minor opposition People's Party, criticized Cheong Wa Dae's creation of the new section, saying it is using the state system for "personal interests."