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Former pres. receives invitation to Olympic opening ceremony

Former pres. receives invitation to Olympic opening ceremony

Posted February. 01, 2018 09:45,   

Updated February. 01, 2018 09:45


Former President Lee Myung-bak said on Wednesday that he would “think positively” about accepting incumbent President Moon Jae-in’s invitation to the opening ceremony of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter games “although there are various talks (about the invitation). He made the remarks when Han Byung-do, President Moon’s senior secretary for political affairs, visited him to his office in southern Seoul to deliver the president’s invitation letter earlier on the day, conveying the incumbent’s message on offering a courteous invitation “with all due respect.” During an open conversation with Han, Lee expressed his hope that the Moon administration will successfully hold the Winter Olympics.

However, Lee did not look so bright in his facial expression‎. When Han handed over the president’s invitation letter, Lee just took a brief look at it before putting it back into the envelope.

Lee’s mention of “various talks” is interpreted by many as his complaint about the ongoing investigation into political and financial scandals involving him. Tensions between the former and incumbent presidents are at their peak, as Lee recently referred to the prosecution’s investigation into his allegedly illegal use of the National Intelligence Agency’s secret funds as a “political revenge” for the death of former President Roh Moo-hyun, while Moon expressed his “fury” about the remarks.

Some observers speculate that Moon intended to highlight unity by inviting the former president at a time when the conservatives are disgruntled over North Korea’s participation in the Olympics. One of Lee’s close aides questions the “purity” of the invitation amid the continuing probe.

“Former President Lee said he would be present (at the opening ceremony),” Han told reporters after a 20-minute meeting behind closed doors. “He said he wished this administration a success in achieving social integration and harmony.”

Hoon-Sang Park tigermask@donga.com