|/ Captured from Jeong Kyu-jae TV|
By Kim Rahn
President Park Geun-hye called the massive corruption scandal involving her and her confidant Choi Soon-sil a "huge mountain heaped up with lies" in an interview Wednesday.
It was her first interview with the media since she was impeached over the influence-peddling scandal Dec. 9. To defend herself, the President opted for a podcast program, "Jeong Kyu-jae TV" operated by the chief editor of the Korea Economic Daily, a conservative website, instead of major newspapers or broadcasters.
In the one-hour interview, Park said she felt that the scandal had been plotted for a long time. "It seems the ongoing things are not accidental," she said. But when asked whether she thought specific figures might have plotted it, she declined to comment.
She also denied all allegations and rumors surrounding her, such as she shared an economic interest with Choi, that she frequently used propofol, and that she had an affair with her former aide Chung Yoon-hoi, Choi's ex-husband.
"The series of nonsense show how misunderstanding, fiction and lies are piled up," she said. "Such huge lies show how weak the grounds for my impeachment were."
Park said Choi was a longtime friend who helped her, but she came to know many new things about her as the scandal emerged, implying she did not know ― and was not involved in ― Choi's alleged corruption.
"I just sought some help from her with expressions in my speech drafts. But I learned about things, which I had not known, such as Choi setting up companies and seeking personal interest in state projects," Park said. "Anyway, not knowing it and causing a public stir was my fault, so I issued a public apology in that aspect."
Regarding the allegations that Choi and her cronies meddled in personnel affairs by recommending their associates as candidates for high-profile government posts, Park partially admitted it. But she said, "Recommendations can be made through both official and unofficial channels. But they do not directly mean an appointment because candidates have to go through a verification process."
Park also flatly denied allegations that she ordered the creation of a blacklist of artists critical of the government. "I don't know anything about it," she said.
The President said she is not planning to attend a Constitutional Court hearing for now, but said she would answer independent counsel questioning, adding talks were underway to decide when and where to question her.