South Korea's presidential office said on Thursday that it would consider taking legal actions against the Sankei Shimbun, a Japanese conservative newspaper, for allegedly running an offensive story about President Park Geun-hye.
"(The newspaper) published a story that even (makes one feel) ashamed to talk about," said Yoon Doo-hyun, senior presidential secretary for public relations, at a meeting with reporters. "They might have attracted one more reader based on a lie, but we will follow through with stern action."
Yoon's visit to the press centre at Cheong Wa Dae came hours after Sankei released a critical report on President Park, citing a column published by Chosun Ilbo, a conservative daily here, last month.
Citing the Chosun Ilbo column, Sankei said a rumour was circulating that Park went missing for several hours on April 16, the day the Sewol ferry sank off Korea's southwestern coast, and that she may have had a "secret meeting with someone" during that time.
Yoon told reporters that a South Korean civil organisation had already filed a complaint against the Japanese newspaper over the report. He said Cheong Wa Dae would separately consider taking legal action against Sankei to hold the Japanese newspaper responsible in civil and criminal cases.
Earlier in the day, Rep. Ahn Min-seok of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy said during a parliamentary hearing for Education Minister-nominee Hwang Woo-yea that the head of state was badly insulted by foreign media because there was no effort to denounce such rumours.