Park's office tells why it bought Viagra pills

SEOUL • The office of South Korean President Park Geun Hye said yesterday it had bought dozens of Viagra pills while preparing for her trip to Africa this year to treat possible altitude sickness.

Viagra is normally associated with erectile dysfunction.

News of the purchase, confirmed by Ms Park's spokesman Jung Youn Kuk, comes as the President is fighting calls for her to step down over allegations that she and a friend had improperly pressured big businesses to contribute funds to foundations set up to support her policy.

Viagra became the most- searched keyword among South Koreans on the country's main online news portals following the news, which was initially reported by an opposition Democratic Party member of parliament.

Viagra has been reported as being helpful in treating high-altitude pulmonary edema, or altitude sickness. The presidential Blue House bought 364 pills - 60 blue Viagra pills and the rest a generic version of the drug - in December, according to Democratic Party MP Kim Sang Hee.

Mr Jung said the pills were bought to treat altitude sickness for presidential aides and employees on Ms Park's May trip to Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. "We bought them, but they were left unused," he told reporters.

Last week, the star of a television soap, Ha Ji Won, became the most talked-about celebrity when a television channel revealed that Ms Park once used her character's name, Gil Ra Im, as a pseudonym at a beauty and detox clinic.

Data from the country's public health insurance review service showed that Ms Park's office also bought injections widely used in cosmetic and anti-ageing treatments.

The Blue House said the purchase of injections was recommended by medical staff and was intended for the health of the office's employees.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2016, with the headline 'Park's office tells why it bought Viagra pills'. Print Edition | Subscribe