Park Geun-hye’s Forgotten Blue House Documents

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It seems the Blue House and Park Geun-hye just can’t seem to part. While the presidential office is still trying to figure out what to do with her leftover beds, it is now embroiled in the latest string of ties to the former president — thousands of potentially game-changing documents left behind in March by the Park administration.

Earlier this month, the current Moon Jae-in administration discovered hundreds of documents in the Blue House — including emails, handwritten memos, press releases, according to a July 4 press release. The new Blue House publicized some of their contents and sent copies to an independent counsel for evaluation (this same counsel investigated her for bribery and corruption earlier this year). Opponents are criticizing this decision as out of line, but the ruling party insists it is not obligated to hide the documents, and that they provide valuable public information.

Moon’s party claims the documents contain particularly important contents, as Park — along with her friend Choi Soon-sil and Samsung vice chairman Lee Jae-yong, both of whom are accused of political corruption during Park’s presidency — is still in the midst of trials. Press releases revealed that the documents cover controversial subjects that have gripped the country for the past year, such as the Park administration’s relationship with Samsung, whether she made the National Pension Service vote in favor of Samsung’s controversial merger, and the notorious art and culture blacklist.

According to Yonhap News, Rep. Park Beom-gye of the Democratic Party described the documents as “powerful proof” of possible crimes. There’s an elaborate bureaucratic process that normally classifies and archives different presidential documents: For some reason, these newly found documents were never archived or marked confidential by Park aides before the new administration came into power. And so to the Democrats, there’s no obligation to hide the documents from the public.

But to Moon’s opponents, the administration has bypassed proper procedure. Rep. Joo Kwang-deok of the Liberty Korea Party cited his experience as a former secretary general at the Blue House, saying he “cannot understand with common sense” the presidential office’s motivations. He maintains that the Moon administration, which upholds prosecutory reformation, should follow its own advice and remain “unbiased and transparent” about this legal process.

Article 16 of the Act on the Management of Presidential Archives mandates that presidential records be publicly disclosed, but as the documents were never actually transferred to the archives, they remain liminally stuck between the two administrations.

Cover image: Park Geun-hye in 2013 (Source: Korea.net on Wikimedia Commons)

Yvonne is a former intern at Korea Exposé hailing from southern California. She is currently studying journalism and English at Northwestern University.