|President Yoon Suk-yeol touches his face mask as he answers reporters' questions on his way to the presidential office in Yongsan District, Seoul, Monday. Yonhap|
DPK urges Yoon to sack Foreign Minister Park Jin; PPP plans to sue broadcaster MBC
By Nam Hyun-woo
President Yoon Suk-yeol blamed the media for reports on his apparent use of foul language during his visit to New York last week, saying such "false reports" are "undermining the alliance" with the U.S.
"Except for two or three powerful nations, there are no other nations that can protect singlehandedly the lives and safety of their peoples," Yoon told reporters on his arrival to the presidential office in Seoul.
"Thus, an alliance (with the U.S.) is essential in protecting lives and safety, and false reports that undermine the alliance are simply putting the people under great risk."
Yoon continued, "I want to verify the facts first, and the truth related to this should be found clearly."
Yoon was caught on a hot mic using foul language while speaking privately to his aides during his exit from a fundraising event in New York, Thursday. In the video footage, Yoon was heard saying "Biden will surely lose face if those bastards in Congress do not pass it."
Senior presidential secretary for public relations Kim Eun-hye later claimed that Yoon had not said "Biden" but a similar-sounding Korean word, and he was saying "I will surely lose face if the Korean National Assembly scraps my pledge at the fundraising event." While explaining this, Kim said such reports were "patchwork efforts for distortion."
Following the explanation, the controversy became a subject of inter-party wrangling.
|Liberal main opposition Democratic Party of Korea floor leader Rep. Park Hong-keun speaks during the party's Supreme Council meeting at Gyeonggi Provincial Government Office in Suwon, Monday. Joint Press Corps|
The liberal main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) threatened to introduce a motion to impeach Minister of Foreign Affairs Park Jin on Tuesday, if Yoon does not replace his foreign affairs team and senior PR secretary Kim for the diplomatic gaffes made during Yoon's trip and the "ridiculous" explanation concerning the president's comments.
"We urge President Yoon to sack Foreign Minister Park immediately and replace National Security Office director Kim Sung-han, National Security Office first deputy director Kim Tae-hyo and senior PR secretary Kim," DPK floor leader Rep. Park Hong-keun said.
"If Yoon does not make a decision today, the DPK will table a bill on impeaching the foreign minister so as to regain public trust and correct the country's foreign policies."
Park went on to say that the public was "waiting for Yoon's sincere apology" for his remarks last Wednesday but he instead made "unbelievable comments hiding the truth and menacing the press."
The conservative ruling People Power Party (PPP) is striving to defend the presidential office, while filing a complaint with the prosecution for defamation against broadcaster MBC, which first reported the video clip with subtitles stating that Yoon had said "Biden."
"The PPP will file complaints with the prosecution against MBC's president, news bureau chief and the reporter who reported this for defamation," the PPP's Science, ICT, Broadcasting, and Communications Committee members said during a press conference.
"This is a manipulation that will leave a stain in Korea's press history. And it is nothing new that MBC has been acting as a left-wing sniper."
"MBC inserted deceptive subtitles to distort the facts, while the DPK has disseminated this as a political weapon," Rep. Kweon Seong-dong wrote on Facebook. "The press and the party have fooled the public, which is a voice phishing attempt against the entire nation."