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[Newsmaker] Old guard stays loyal to fallen Park

March 13, 2017 - 18:32 By Jo He-rim
Former President Park Geun-hye’s loyalists and aides are showing unrelenting support for the disgraced leader even after the top court forced her out of office over a corruption scandal.

On Sunday evening, Park moved from the presidential residence back to her private house in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul, and some eight lawmakers greeted her at the entrance of her house. A large crowd of supporters also gathered to welcome her return.
Rep. Cho Kyung-hwan (right) and other lawmakers of the Liberty Korea Party have a conversation in front of ousted former President Park Geun-hye's private residence in Samseong-dong, Seoul, Sunday. (Yonhap)

They included eight-time lawmaker Suh Chung-won, former Deputy Prime Minister Rep. Choi Kyung-hwan, Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun and Rep. Kim Jin-tae -- all from Park’s conservative Liberty Korea Party.

Also at the scene were Park’s three former presidential chiefs of staff, including her first secretariat chief Huh Tae-yeol and Park Dae-chul.

The group, known as the most loyal to the conservative leader, has firmly defended Park ever since the scandal involving her confidante broke out in late October and the parliament voted to impeach her in December.

“President Park is in a difficult situation. We will just help as best as we can individually,” Rep. Cho Won-jin said Monday, denying media reports that they have split roles and duties to support the former president.

The lawmaker had revisited Park’s Samseong-dong home early Monday morning for a 1 1/2 hour dialogue.

“She is not well,” the lawmakers told reporters after the visit. He added that the living room was cold.

At around the same time Monday, Rep. Kim held a press conference at the National Assembly and warned against any attempt by state prosecutors to investigate Park, saying the allegations raised against her are groundless.

“Stop using this (impeachment) case politically. The media should stop the witch-hunting reporting,” Rep. Kim said.

The investigation on Park’s case should also be delayed until after the early presidential election that is expected on May 9 at the latest, he added.

By staying loyal to the disgraced Park, the lawmakers further alienated themselves from mainstream politics.

The Liberty Korea Party, with which they are affiliated, warned them Monday, as it is struggling to improve its tarnished image amid the upcoming presidential election.

“The party will take strong measures against any activity that disturbs party unity or goes against the party’s platform,” Rep. In said in a veiled attack directed at the pro-Park lawmakers.

Formerly Saenuri, Park’s home party, the Liberty Korea Party is in a difficult position as they can neither cut ties with nor embrace the former president.

On Sunday evening, Park left a farewell message which was widely interpreted as her disapproval toward the court’s verdict.

“It may take time, but have faith that the truth will come to light eventually,” Park said through Rep. Min, who released the statement after she went into the house.

The party’s interim leader In Myung-jin had previously announced their acceptance of the top court’s ruling Friday and apologized for failing in their duty as a ruling party.

It has refused to comment on Park’s statement and said the party keeps their stance of apology and vows to reform the party.

By Jo He-rim (