Park urges opposition party to end outdoor protest, return to parliament

SEOUL, Sept. 17 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye urged the main opposition Democratic Party on Tuesday to end its outdoor protest campaign and return to the National Assembly, saying the party would face a severe public backlash if it continues to boycott legislative activity.

Park made the remark during a Cabinet meeting, a day after her talks with DP leader Kim Han-gil ended without agreement on how to break the prolonged parliamentary deadlock. The opposition party has since vowed to continue its outdoor protest campaign.

"Should the opposition party boycott deliberations on livelihoods-related bills while insisting on the outdoor protest, that would never be politics for the people," Park said. "If the opposition party ignores the livelihoods of people, it will face a national backlash and should bear the responsibility for that."

The opposition DP launched the street protest campaign in early August, setting up a makeshift tent office at a plaza in front of City Hall in downtown Seoul, in an effort to press Park to apologize over allegations the state spy agency National Intelligence Service attempted to influence December's presidential election.

Monday's three-way meeting, which also included the ruling party's leader, was watched closely, as it could have led to the opposition party ending the protest and returning to the National Assembly. But the talks ended in failure as both sides stuck to their existing positions on key issues.

DP leader Kim demanded Park apologize over the election meddling scandal, but she rejected the demand, reiterating her position that she neither was in a position to order such an operation nor benefited from the alleged wrongdoing.

They were also wide apart on allegations surrounding the chief prosecutor's resignation offer.

The opposition claimed that Prosecutor General Chae Dong-wook was forced to tender his resignation over allegations of an illegitimate child under a scheme designed to oust him for aggressively pursuing an investigation into the election meddling scandal.

But Park flatly dismissed the allegations, saying the case is only about his ethical standards.

On Tuesday, senior presidential press secretary Lee Jung-hyun blamed the opposition party for the talks' failure, saying the party insisted only on demanding Park's apology.

"Though they talked about a crisis of democracy, they are ignoring the National Assembly and the people while continuing the outdoor protest," Lee said. "This is none other than a crisis of democracy and a crisis of parliamentary politics."

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