(4th LD) Ex-President Park returns home after discharge from hospital

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(ATTN: CHANGES to title, lead; UPDATES throughout)
By Joo Kyung-don

SEOUL/DAEGU, March 24 (Yonhap) — Former President Park Geun-hye said Thursday that she will contribute “what little strength I have” to the country’s development as she arrives in her hometown to the first time since his imprisonment about five years ago.

Park, who was pardoned in December after spending four years and nine months in prison for a 22-year sentence for corruption, left a Seoul hospital earlier in the day before arriving at her new residence in the city of Daegu, in the southeast, around noon.

“I’m grateful that so many people came here to welcome me like this, even though I had a lot of flaws and disappointed you,” Park said in front of hundreds of supporters and well-wishers, apparently referring to his dismissal and ousting. .

“As president, I worked hard for the country and for the people, but there are still many dreams that I failed to achieve, and those dreams now belong to others,” he said. she declared. “I will add what little strength I have to help good talented people…contribute to the development of the Republic of Korea.”

Park said “the past five years have been really hard for me to bear,” but said she endured it thinking about the day she returned to her hometown.

Shortly after she started talking, a man threw a bottle of soju at her, although she was unharmed.

Earlier in the day, a grinning Park left Samsung Medical Center in Seoul.

“Bringing my regards to people after five years,” Park said wearing a dark navy coat and clutching a purse in her right hand. “Thank you for your concerns, I have recovered a lot.”

Around 40 supporters, who had been waiting for him outside the hospital since early morning, shouted cheers as Park spoke. Among the crowd were former officials of his administration, including his ex-chief of staff Kim Ki-choon.

Wreaths and welcome banners lined the streets leading to the hospital, as riot police were deployed to the scene.

Park, 70, visited the grave of his late father and former President Park Chung-hee at Seoul National Cemetery before heading to Daegu.

Park’s lyrics were closely watched for a political message, including any mention of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol. Yoon, a former prosecutor, investigated corruption allegations against Park that led to her impeachment, dismissal and imprisonment in 2017.

During his campaign, Yoon said he was sorry for Park’s corruption probe as he apparently tried to mend their troubled past relationship in order to shore up conservative voters for the presidential race.

Yoon said he planned to visit Park.

“It’s great that she’s going home after recovering,” Yoon told reporters. “I am thinking of visiting the provinces from next week, and now that she is discharged from the hospital, I have planned to visit her.”

When asked if he would invite Park to his inauguration ceremony, Yoon replied, “Sure. We’re supposed to invite all past presidents.”

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