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June 23, 2017

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Sankei Shimbun investigated over report on Park

Korean prosecutors have opened an investigation into Sankei Shimbun over a report on President Park Geun-hye that raised questions about her whereabouts during the day of the ferry sinking.

The Seoul bureau of the Japanese newspaper speculated in its Aug. 3 online edition that Park was not at Cheong Wa Dae when the ferry capsized on the morning of April 16.

Citing rumors in the stock brokerage industry, Sankei Shimbun alleged that Park was staying outside the presidential office at the time with a man seen as a key adviser to her. The newspaper said that she had allegedly left the office for about seven hours on the day.

The report angered a Korean advocate for conservatives, who filed a defamation suit against the Sankei Shimbun Seoul bureau on Aug. 9 with the law enforcement agency.

Following receipt of the complaint, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office issued a travel ban on the head of the paper's Seoul bureau, Tatsuya Katou, 48, and summoned him to appear at the investigative office on Aug. 12.

Rumors in the securities industry earlier speculated that Park was staying with Chung Yoon-hoi, her former key aide, at a private residence in Seoul.

Cheong Wa Dae has dismissed the rumors and report, stressing that the President was staying at the presidential residence. A secretary noted that she took care of state affairs "not only at the official office but also at the presidential residence."

In a statement, Sankei Shimbun claimed that it had referred to statements from the National Assembly and a column in a Korean newspaper.

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