Park Geun-hye ‘sick leave’ causes unease

Following her recent return from a 12-day trip to four nations, Cheong Wa Dae immediately announced that President Park Geun-hye would be taking rest from state affairs this week, citing exhaustion from the intensive trip.

But some critics are doubtful about the reasons behind Park’s seclusion — though fatigue is plausible, considering the lengthy journey and tight itinerary — with some saying that the state leader may be attempting to bypass begrudging political situations.

“The president struggled throughout the tight trip, relying on intravenous injections, so her doctor insisted that she rest after returning home,” said An Chong-bum, senior presidential secretary for policy cooperation on Sunday, the day Park returned from France.

President Park Geun-hye arrives in Korea after her 12-day overseas trip on Sunday. (Yonhap)

Park showed up at the Memorial Day ceremony on Monday to deliver an address, but canceled most of her other schedules this week, including the regular Cabinet meeting which was chaired by Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn.

Cheong Wa Dae also refrained from commenting on current political agendas, including the legislative deadlock due to parties’ conflict over key parliamentary posts.

During her “sick leave,” Park’s approval ratings reached 36.2 percent — the highest since falling after the April 13 general election — backed by sympathetic sentiments of the elderly and conservative clusters.

The packed trip, during which Park covered Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, and France with long flights in between, might be reason enough for her need for rest.

The point of dispute, however, is that the Blue House on some occasions elaborates on the president’s physical condition in excessive detail, but declines to do so under certain circumstances.

In March 2014, Cheong Wa Dae explained that Park had failed to attend the official state dinner during her visit to Netherlands due to cold symptoms. During her visit to Latin American states in April last year, the Blue House spokesperson told reporters that Park was down with stomach cramps and pharyngitis, accompanied by slight fever.

Last November, she skipped the funeral ceremony of late President Kim Young-sam, citing cold and fatigue from the G20 summit earlier on.

But when faced with parliamentary questioning, Cheong Wa Dae took a contradictory stance, describing the president’s health condition as a confidential issue.

“The health condition of a state leader, being directly connected to national security, is classified as a state secret,” said an official of the presidential security office in 2014, when Cheong Wa Dae came under fire for purchasing an excessively lavish sports device.

By Bae Hyun-jung(tellme@heraldcorp.com)

 

Source : The Korea Herald

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