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Uri Party Criticized for ‘Mudslinging’

Posted April. 17, 2006 07:20,   


The ruling Uri Party began mudslinging on April 16 by raising speculations on Seoul Mayor Lee Myung-bak and Ulsan Mayor Park Maeng-woo, both of whom are members of the major opposition Grand National Party (GNP). With the disclosures still unconfirmed, however, criticism is mounting not only from the opposition but also from within that the party is making reckless negative attacks.

In a press conference on April 16 at Uri Party headquarters in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, Ahn Min-seok, a Uri Party lawmaker and member of the party’s Legal Structure Committee, claimed, “Mayor Lee had special relations with Seon Byeong-jik, the former chairman of the Seoul Tennis Association with whom he threw a party in a villa in Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi Province in October 2003.”

Lawmaker Woo Je-hang, the head of the governing party’s Local Government Irregularities Report Center, announced he was informed of a fraud case involving a figure that helped Ulsan Mayor Park during the mayoral election in 2002 and that he would ask the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office to investigate the case.

The Uri Party’s “disclosures” on that day were made after its floor leader Kim Han-gil announced beforehand in a press meeting on April 14 that there is “an issue regarding the GNP’s very important figures, by which the public is highly likely to be shocked.”

But, Seon, who the lawmaker claimed had special relations with Mayor Lee, immediately held a press conference on the same day to explain, “[I] played tennis with Mayor Lee, but we are not in special relations.” It was also reported that the case involving Mayor Park’s aide had already been indicted to the Ulsan District Prosecutors’ Office and is currently being investigated.

With regard to the Uri Party’s unconfirmed disclosures, the GNP discussed countermeasures in its emergency chief committee meeting and decided to indict the Uri Party chairman Chung Dong-young, floor leader Kim Han-gil and lawmakers Ahn Min-seok and Woo Je-hang to the Prosecution on April 17 for making false accusations in violation of the Election Law.

The GNP defined the Uri Party’s disclosures as the “second Kim Dae-up scandal” and a “blind exposé,” likening them to the case of Kim Dae-up, who was sent to prison for falsely revealing the military service issue of then GNP candidate Lee Hoi-chang’s son during the 2002 presidential election. “This scandal is a manipulation by Kim Han-gil, and is at the peak of loathsome mudslinging efforts following the fraud in the presidential election of 2002,” criticized GNP Spokesperson Lee Gye-jin.

Even some members of the Uri Party pointed out, “It is too impetuous for the party’s leadership to call an unverified argument ‘shocking irregularities’ and for its lawmaker to reveal the claim in a press conference.”

Chin-Ku Lee taewon_ha@donga.com sys1201@donga.com