The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on Thursday disclosed details about President Park Geun-hye`s whereabouts on April 16, the day of the deadly sinking of the ferry Sewol. Cheong Wa Dae claimed that the president first received a written briefing by the Office of National Security about the disaster at 10:00 a.m., before getting additional briefings through various channels at intervals of three to 58 minutes until she visited the disaster control headquarters at 5:15 p.m. According to documents disclosed by the presidential office, she gave necessary rescue orders from 10:15 a.m.
The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) has been attacking the president for having acted irresponsibly, asking where she was for seven hours on the day of the disaster. Kim Ki-choon, her chief of staff, invited suspicions by keeping mum about where the president was on that day while telling the National Assembly that she remained at the Cheong Wa Dae complex and thus was able to receive briefings any time.
The Japanese daily Sankei Shimbun carried a sensational article by skillfully blending the opposition party`s claims and one of the president`s closest aides. It seems that Cheong Wa Dae`s latest disclosure is its desperate attempt to respond to the Japanese daily`s report.
No previous administration ever disclosed exactly where the president was in Cheong Wa Dae due to security reasons. The president has various offices in the complex with security guards and secretaries standing by closely. How many Korean people would think President Park whose only hobby is reading reports even after work was doing something suspicious at the time of such emergency?
Nevertheless, Kim Hyun-mee, an NPAD lawmaker and secretary general of a special parliamentary committee on the ferry disaster, continued her offensive against the president, criticizing the presidential office for not answering questions regarding whether the president received all the written briefings, whom she discussed the disaster with, and what orders she gave to relevant authorities. Cheong Wa Dae and the opposition party have totally different interpretations of the same situation. It is the opposition party`s job to ask where the president was and what she was doing on that day and whether she responded properly to the disaster. If Kim refuses to recognize the disclosure, however, should there be an on-the-spot investigation into about the president`s whereabouts behind closed doors?