Posted : 2016-12-16 15:47
Updated : 2016-12-16 17:59

Park's clean toilet obsession 'led to diplomatic blunder'

President Park Geun-hye, center, takes a photo with U.S. President Barack Obama and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte after the afternoon session of the the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington on April 2. / Korea Times file

By Park Si-soo

Why was President Park Geun-hye so sensitive about a toilet's cleanness? With the impeached leader the only person to know the answer, there are allegations her "exorbitant" attachment to a bacteria-free toilet led to a diplomat blunder early this year.

Park missed a ceremonial group photo of state leaders at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington in April. Back then, the government said Park was in the toilet during the photo shoot, not knowing the event was rescheduled for the summit's smooth progress.

But the explanation was missing details, according to Rep. Kim Kyung-jin of the minor opposition People's Party. The lawmaker said Park "deliberately" missed the photo event to use the toilet at her hotel room, instead of the public restroom next to the meeting venue.

"Park walked away from the meeting room all of a sudden when the meeting was under way," the lawmaker said, based on information he secured from unidentified sources. "Later, it turned out that she left the venue to travel to her hotel to use the toilet at her room. She didn't want to use the public one."

Park returned to the venue and had her photo taken with U.S. President Barack Obama and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte when the afternoon session ended.

President Park Geun-hye is missing from this ceremonial group photo of leaders at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington on April 2. This photo was taken when she was in the toilet. / Korea Times file

It was not the first public embarrassment caused by the alleged attachment.

Rep. Song young-gil of the main opposition revealed another incident on an online talk show on Dec. 8. The former Incheon mayor recalled that members of the presidential security team came to the mayor's room and replaced a toilet with a new one before Park's visit.

"At one time, officials from the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae had asked me if the President could use my room for a brief rest," Song said on the show. "I gladly agreed to the request. But then, the presidential secretaries again came to me and said the President wanted to replace a toilet in a restroom inside the room. I was totally dumbfounded."

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