Park Geun-hye apologizes for scandals of lawmakers-elect
Park Geun-hye, the leader of the ruling Saenuri Party, offered a public apology to people Wednesday over scandals involving two of its lawmakers elected in the April 11 general elections.
The remarks came after Kim Hyung-tae, who was elected in a district in the southeastern city of Pohang, withdrew from the party on April 18 over allegations he attempted to rape the wife of his late brother 10 years ago.
Two days later, Moon Dae-sung, who won a seat in a district in the southern port city of Busan, left the party over suspicions that parts of his doctoral thesis were plagiarized. Moon, a former Olympic taekwondo champion, is currently an athlete member of the International Olympic Committee.
"(I) feel deeply sorry that the party failed to thoroughly examine (the two candidates) in advance," Park said during a radio address.
"Upon the end of the elections, (the party) should have put its utmost efforts into solving issues that are relevant to people's lives. But past mistakes of some lawmakers-elect have caused concern."
Park took over the party leadership in December, when the ruling party was mired in a crisis due in large part to perceptions it is a party primarily for the rich and privileged.
She led the conservative party to an upset victory in the general elections, but Saenuri has lost its majority, as the defections of Kim and Moon have reduced its seats to 150 in the 300-seat new parliament.
Park also pledged to use the party's crucial win in the elections to deliver on its campaign promises, particularly in the fields of job creation, childcare and housing.
Later in the day, several civic groups claimed that Yeom Dong-yeol, another Saenuri lawmaker elected in a district of the eastern province of Gangwon, is guilty of plagiarism in obtaining his doctorate in public administration in February.
Yeom is suspected of copying parts of a foreign scholar's doctoral thesis, according to the groups. Yeom denies such allegations.