South Korean President Park Geun Hye had no role in alleged efforts by spy agency officials to boost her popularity before the last election and the case could distract lawmakers from economic reforms, the premier said.
“The president has made it clear from the beginning that she did not receive any help in the previous presidential election from the National Intelligence Service,” Prime Minister Chung Hong Won said today in a nationally televised speech. “If confusion continues further over this case, it will never be helpful for the national economy.”
The denial through the premier follows an Oct. 23 statement from Park’s election rival, Moon Jae In, who called the December race unfair and said Park benefited from the alleged intervention by the NIS “whether she knew knew it or not.”
Park’s approval rating dropped to 53 percent in the fourth week of October, the lowest since the start of June, Gallup Korea said Oct. 25, citing the scaling back of her welfare pledge last month and the NIS scandal. The survey had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 2.8 percentage points and polled around 1,200 people.
The NIS allegations have dominated debate in the National Assembly since prosecutors said in June that agents had conducted an Internet campaign supporting Park before the election. Won Sei Hoon, a former NIS chief, is on trial on charges of ordering the campaign.
Fueling the debate, a prosecutor said on Oct. 21 at a parliamentary hearing that he experienced outside interference in his investigation of NIS agents. A day later, the Defense Ministry said four officials at a cyber-defense command had personally written political posts before the vote.
“The government will accurately identify the facts and cause of the series of allegations, including the NIS comments,” Chung said, urging parliament to end “confusion and confrontation” and deliver legislation on some of Park’s economic policies worth nearly 10.8 trillion won ($10.2 billion).
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