South Korean President Park Geun-hye on political scandal
In an extraordinary display of abject apology during a moment of supreme crisis, South Korean President Park Geun-hye took sole blame Friday for a â€œheartbreakingâ€ scandal amid rising suspicion that she allowed a mysterious confidante to manipulate power from the shadows. Park also vowed to accept a direct investigation into her actions, but the opposition, sensing weakness, immediately said that if she doesnâ€™t accept a prime minster chosen by the parliament and withdraw from dealing with domestic affairs, it will push for her ouster.
â€œI feel a huge responsibility (for the scandal) deep in my heart,â€ Park said, her voice shaking during the high-stakes televised address to the nation over a scandal that threatens her rule. â€œIt is all my fault and mistake.â€
Parkâ€™s comments were rife with astonishing moments, and included a frank assessment of her relationship with the woman at the heart of the scandal, Choi Soon-sil, the daughter of a cult leader and a longtime friend of Parkâ€™s.
â€œI put too much faith in a personal relationship and didnâ€™t look carefully at what was happening,â€ Park said. â€œSad thoughts trouble my sleep at night. I realize that whatever I do, it will be difficult to mend the hearts of the people, and then I feel a sense of shame and ask myself, â€˜Is this the reason I became president?â€â€™
In another exceptional moment, Park denied media speculation that she had â€œfallen into worshipping cult religions or that shamanistic rituals were held at the presidential Blue House.â€
Her comments come at what may well prove to be the crucial moment of her presidency. Park is attempting to show the contrition and sense of responsibility that South Koreans demand while re-establishing her tarnished credibility. She is in the fourth year of a single five-year term and faced criticism even before this scandal, particularly for the governmentâ€™s response to a 2014 ferry sinking that killed more than 300 people.
One national poll had her approval rating at 5 percent, the lowest for any leader in South Koreaâ€™s 68-year history.