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Suspicions Grow Over Alleged Forgery of Aide`s Document

Posted April. 26, 2008 06:40,   


Chief presidential secretary for social policy Park Mi-seok remains embroiled in a controversy over a 1352-square meter farmland located in Unbuk-dong, Incheon, in her husband’s name.

Some suspect that Park forged documents, including one confirming that the land was being farmed, to prove that the property was lawfully in their possession.

Based on the comments of local residents in Incheon, Park apparently managed to get the certified document just before she was required to publicly disclose her assets as a government official.

Mr. Kim, 56, the head of the village who signed the document that Park submitted to Cheong Wa Dae, said, "Mr. Chu, who bought the land with Secretary Park’s husband, Mr. Lee, visited my office to prepare the document. He received my signature around 3 p.m. on April 20."

“The certified document declares that Park’s husband grew rice on the land between January 1, 2003 and April 15, 2008,” said Mr. Kim. “Mr. Chu asked me what would substantiate the fact that three people bought a rice field and farmed the land. I said they needed a certified document and so he asked me to write one and I did.”

But Mr. Kim did not comment on whether he actually saw them farm the land.

Residents living near the land affirmed Mr. Chu’s assertion that others farmed the land.

Resident A said, “I saw people were eating meals after work with the landowners from Seoul during the busy planting and harvest seasons. It was not that frequent, but they came to Incheon during the busy season.” Resident B said, “As the landowners had no knowledge of agriculture, they asked us for help in the spring for rice planting and in the autumn to harvest the rice.”

Secretary Park released a written statement that said, “I have never gone to Incheon to get the document but I received it from Mr. Chu. I have never forged a document related to the land in Incheon.”

Related to suspicions that the property law was violated, she said, “As the co-owners farmed the land by themselves, I thought it was possible to own a land if that fact was proven. I regret that I didn’t know the details of the law exactly. I followed the rules by selling the land, but I did not speculate on the property.”

Presidential spokesperson Lee Dong-kwan said, “As of now, these suspicions surrounding Park do not harm the management of government.”

Meanwhile, opposition parties, including the United Democratic Party and the Liberty Forward Party, called for Park’s resignation.

Democratic Party spokesperson Cha Young said in a briefing, “President Lee Myung-bak should hold presidential officials, with responsibilities in the civil government, accountable and Park should voluntarily resign as a government official.”

ddr@donga.com kchwang@donga.com