Independent Counsel Vows No-Holds-Barred Probe of Park

Nicole Han, Dec. 1, 2016, 9:40 a.m.

President Park Geun-hye on Wednesday selected lawyer Park Young-soo as an independent counsel to investigate a massive influence-peddling scandal involving her and a longtime confidante.

Cheong Wa Dae said the president will "actively" cooperate with the independent probe.

The president "will respond to a direct inquiry by the independent counsel and explain her position on the case," Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Jung Youn-kuk told reporters. "We hope that through the independent investigation and court proceedings, the whole truth behind this scandal can be revealed."

Park Young-soo (64), a former prosecutor with extensive experience probing corporate corruption, told reporters, "I will carry out a thorough investigation according to the rule of law to uncover the truth. I feel a heavy responsibility taking this job at a critical time for the country."

Asked to confirm that he is friends with one key suspect, the former senior presidential secretary for civil affairs Woo Byung-woo, Park said they worked together in a department at the Suwon District Prosecutors' Office but that will not affect his investigation.

Woo, whose job it was to audit presidential staff, is suspected of turning a blind eye to extensive meddling in government affairs by Park's crony Choi Soon-sil with the help of Cheong Wa Dae secretaries.

Park Young-soo will spend the next 20 days assembling his team of some 60 prosecutors and investigators. He then has 70 days to investigate the scandal, with the option of extending for up to 30 days with the president's approval.

Prosecutors who have been investigating the scandal so far will hand over their evidence to the independent counsel.

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