Park’s privacy

President’s privacy (Korea Times Editorial)

(This editorial would be interesting to those who have followed the political crisis developing in South Korea lately-TW)

Park’s personal life should not be an open book

The media has been flooded with sensational reports over the private life of the scandal-ridden President Park Geun-hye. The reports have focused on a wide range of speculation regarding Park’s personal affairs, ranging from her medical history to her encounters with men.

Rep. Kim Sang-hee of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea disclosed earlier this week a list of 323 kinds of medicine purchased by Cheong Wa Dae between March 2014 and August 2016. Among them, the purchase of Viagra pills saw immense media attention.

It was also disclosed that Cheong Wa Dae had stacked up on various anti-aging shots, in addition to facial creams used after cosmetic surgery. Due to the excessive media reports centering on allegations of Park’s beauty treatments, Cheong Wa Dae had to explain that its medical staff did not have the capacity to perform cosmetic procedures. Even before the presidential office medicine list was disclosed, the media had spotlighted the expensive beauty treatment Park received at Chaum Clinic under the bogus name of Gil Ra-im, the name of a female character in a popular soap opera.

In addition to beauty and anti-aging formula, there have also been sensational reports about Park’s men. It has been widely reported that Park’s “body and soul” had been controlled by the religious cult leader Choi Tae-min in her youth. The latest JoongAng Ilbo report underlined that Park, who rarely gives face time to even ministers in her Cabinet and presidential aides, had routinely allowed late night visits of Cha Eun-taek, one of the key figures in the so-called Choi Soon-sil scandal. The report highlighted the remarkable physical resemblance between Choi and Cha.

With all these irresponsible media reports, Park’s personal life has virtually become an open book. The public has a right to know about what Park does in her official capacity, but the media and opposition parties should be careful not to encroach on her privacy.

The reports of Viagra and beauty treatment drugs are especially malicious because they have resulted in the image of a female president abandoning her official duties and being immersed in personal pleasures. And many people now base their criticism toward her on this image. Basically, there is nothing wrong with a single woman of a certain age like Park trying to keep herself young and healthy with the help of pills or injections. It becomes a problem only if the President was taking illegal prescriptions or if she was incapacitated and unable to function as head of state. But so far, reports linking her medical history to her incompetence have not been substantiated. There is no evidence, for example, that Park had anything to do with the Viagra pills or that she received some kind of cosmetic procedure during the Sewol ferry sinking.

There is no doubt that Park, who is facing an impeachment push by the opposition parties and some members of her own Saenuri Party, is the most unpopular and incompetent President Korea has ever had. But criticisms toward her should be based on facts, not unsubstantiated media reports about her personal affairs. As a person, Park still has the right to protect her privacy.

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