Now let us all be fanatically delicate about Park Geun-hye’s personal life

South Korean President Park Geun Hye on Monday hit out at “groundless” rumours circling her administration, some of which have touched on her personal life and triggered defamation suits against domestic and foreign media outlets.

“There have been a lot of groundless allegations. It’s time to reveal the truth so that people should not be thrown into confusion any more,” Ms Park said in televised comments to senior advisers.

The latest allegation, made by the local Segye Times daily, is that former Park aide Jeong Yun Hoe, who holds no official administration position, has been meddling in state affairs. Citing an internal presidential office document, the Unification Church-owned newspaper said Mr Jeong received regular briefings from senior presidential officials, and had pushed for the dismissal of Ms Park’s current chief-of-staff.

The presidential Blue House insists the document is inaccurate and state prosecutors launched a probe on Monday into how it came to be leaked.

If you’re wondering why this is a big deal, compare and contrast with this story:

A Japanese reporter indicted on charges of defaming South Korean President Park Geun-hye pleaded not guilty at a preliminary hearing on Thursday at the Seoul Central District Court.

Prosecutors last month indicted Tatsuya Kato, the former Seoul bureau chief of Japan’s Sankei Shimbun, over an article published online Aug. 3.

Kato’s article suggested the president had been absent from her office for seven hours on April 16, the day the Sewol ferry sank, killing 300 people. He quoted a South Korean newspaper as saying the president may have been in a personal rendezvous with a recently divorced former aide.

“The article was to let the Japanese people know about South Koreans’ view of President Park,” Kato told the hearing. “It was not intended at all to vilify President Park personally.”

Kato’s defense team also questioned the validity of the case. “It is questionable whether a report on a relationship between a single man and a single woman constitutes defamation,” said Ahn Seung-min, a defense lawyer for Kato.

Being curious, I dug out my quasi-inexistent Korean language skills, and am now delighted to bring you a pic of the man himself (Jeong is the one on the left, obviously):
Jeong Yun-ho

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