S. Korea Leader Must Account for 7 Missing Hours During Tragedy

Rumors flying about Park's absence that day
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2016 9:08 AM CST
S. Korea Leader Must Account for 7 Missing Hours During Tragedy
In this Nov. 29 photo, South Korean President Park Geun-hye makes a televised address in Seoul.   (Pool Photo via AP)

South Korean President Park Geun-hye has many problems these days, but now a particularly volatile one in her home country is about to resurface in a big way. It boils down to this: What on earth was she doing on April 16, 2014, as a ferry carrying hundreds of young students began sinking? She did not make a public appearance until seven hours after the first news reports surfaced, and her office's claim that she was coolly keeping an eye on things and issuing orders all the while has not been widely accepted. With rumors flying, a parliamentary panel will conduct a hearing Wednesday on those missing hours, reports Reuters. Among those to testify will be medical staffers and a plastic surgeon, presumably to address reports that she was getting Botox treatments that day.

In fact, at an impeachment hearing last week, an opposition lawmaker held up photos of Park's eyes before and after the day of the ferry disaster, suggesting she'd had some kind of work done. The plastic surgeon in question has long treated the now-infamous Choi Soon-sil, who has come under fire for her controversial ties to Park, reports the Korea Times. Also not helping: Reports that Park spent 90 minutes of those seven hours with a hairdresser. (Park's office has said it was a mere 20 minutes.) And finally, Park has had to deny rumors that she was taking part in some kind of ritual marking the death of Choi Soon-sil's father. While Park has been impeached, she retains her title and salary while the matter is considered by the Korean Constitutional Court, notes the Washington Post. (A puppy also plays a role in this mess.)

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