Blue House, blue pills

Embattled South Korean president admits to mass purchase of Viagra

South Korean President Park Geun-hye. (REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji)

If you’ve been following the saga unfolding with South Korea’s first woman president, you know things have gotten a little weird in recent weeks. Park Geun-hye has been mired in a corruption scandal that has seen millions of protesters call for her resignation or impeachment. Amid the scandal, other tawdry accusations have surfaced, including Park’s purported use of the name of a soap opera character as an alias and the alleged fabrication of medical prescriptions.

In the latest strange turn, Park’s office confirmed allegations made by an opposing lawmaker that her office had made a mass purchase of Viagra last year. Last December, Park’s office obtained hundreds of doses of the erectile dysfunction drug. But why? According to a statement from a Blue House (the executive office and residence of South Korea’s president) spokesperson, NBC News reported, the Viagra was bought for use as a remedy for altitude sickness should any of the Park’s aides and staff become ill during an official visit to Africa. The spokesperson said none of the pills ended up being used. Earlier this week, Park offered her resignation under the condition that Parliament come up with and execute a plan for a transition of power, a move some said was a stalling tactic.

But back to the Viagra for a moment. What? Apparently, doctors in South Korea sometimes prescribe erectile drugs to mountain climbers as a way of staving off lightheadedness and more serious ailments, such as a pulmonary edema, due to the drug’s famous effect on blood flow. But, as CNN notes, medical opinion is divided on whether Viagra actually works for altitude sickness and no clinical proof exists to suggest it does. According to Reuters, South Koreans were just as stunned by the presence of all the little blue pills in the Blue House. News of the curious purchase caused the word ‘Viagra’ to become the most searched for term among the country’s news portals.

Read the full story at NBC News.

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