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Corruption Scandal: Viagra adds pep to South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s Impeachment Move

A presidential spokesman, Jung Youn-kuk, insisted that besides the more common bedroom use, the pills are sometimes taken to prevent or treat altitude sickness

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South Korean protesters wearing masks of South Korean President Park Geun-hye, right, and Choi Soon-sil, who is at the center of a political scandal, stage a rally calling for Park to step down in downtown Seoul, South Korea, Nov. 2, 2016. VOA
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Seoul, Nov 24, 2016: The discovery that the staff of South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who is currently mired in a huge corruption scandal, stocked up on drugs like Viagra, added pep to the opposition move to impeach her early in December.

South Korea’s main opposition party, the Democratic Party, on Thursday said it will put the impeachment motion to vote in the National Assembly between December 2 and 9, Efe news quoted a party spokesperson as saying.

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On Monday, the three largest opposition parties announced their intention to call for Park’s impeachment after the prosecution indicted her as an accomplice to her confidante Choi Soon-sil in a large-scale corruption and influence-peddling case.

Park, already getting mounting calls for her to step down over the scandal, now also has to explain why her staff stocked up on drugs like Viagra, commonly prescribed for erectile dysfunction.

Kim Sang-hee, an opposition lawmaker, on Wednesday raised the issue by citing medical insurance data showing the Blue House, as the President’s office is known, had bought 60 Viagra ‘Blue pills’ and 304 pills of the generic equivalent, sildenafil citrate, last December.

A presidential spokesman, Jung Youn-kuk, insisted that besides the more common bedroom use, the pills are sometimes taken to prevent or treat altitude sickness.

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Jung said doctors had prescribed them for presidential aides to have handy for that purpose during Park’s official visit in May to Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. Those countries’ capitals are all well above sea level — Addis Ababa’s elevation is 7,700 feet.

As it happened, Jung said, none of the pills was used on the trip.

None of this was of much help to Park, who has been struggling with the corruption scandal for weeks.

For the impeachment motion to be successful, it first needs the approval of two-thirds of Parliament’s Lower House.

While the opposition does not enjoy such a broad majority, the motion could still go through as several lawmakers from the ruling party Saenuri, have joined the demand for the President’s resignation.

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Should the motion be approved in Parliament, six of the nine Constitutional Court judges will then have to give their nod to what would be the first impeachment proceedings in South Korea since the country was founded in 1948.

Prosecutors believe it was in collusion with Park that Choi — now dubbed the “Korean Rasputin” and who has never held public office — secretly intervened in state matters, used her influence to illegally extort funds from companies, and secure academic privileges for her daughter.

The scandal has sparked great outrage in the country, with over a million protesters taking to the streets over the past few weeks asking the President to step down. (IANS)

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Korea To Survey Railways That Were Cut During The Korean War

The projects are among many agreements reached between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

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Korea, Railways
A South Korean train transporting South Korean officials runs on rails that lead to North Korea inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, South Korea. VOA

A South Korean train entered to North Korea on Friday as the two countries began inspecting northern railways tracks they hope to relink with the south.

About 30 officials from each side will participate in an 18-day joint survey of railways tracks cut since the Korean War.

“We will maintain close consultation with related nations so that the project to connect the South and North’s railways could proceed with international support,” South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said during a ceremony at Dorasan Station near the border.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae. VOA

The Koreas, however, cannot proceed much further with the project without the removal of U.S.-led sanctions against the North.The U.S. has said the sanctions will remain until North Korea takes convincing measures toward full denuclearization.

The UN Security Council granted exemptions to sanctions last week, allowing the implementation of the cross-border infrastructure project.

Also on Friday, the North and South militaries completed removing 20 front-line guard posts and land mines from a border area where they plan to start their first-ever joint search for remains of soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War, according to an official from Seoul’s Defense Ministry who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Also Read: North Korea Open To Nuclear Site Inspection: Report

The projects are among many agreements reached between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their three meetings this year, as part of a diplomatic initiative that eased tensions over the North’s nuclear program. (VOA)