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Controversies erupt over the confidante of Pres. Yoon and First Lady

Controversies erupt over the confidante of Pres. Yoon and First Lady

Posted July. 06, 2022 08:10,   

Updated July. 06, 2022 08:10


Mrs. Shin, the wife of presidential secretary of personnel affairs Lee Won-mo, is reported to have accompanied President Yoon Suk-yeol on his trip to Madrid for the NATO summit meetings. Some are questioning the appropriateness of the supporting role Shin is playing in President Yoon’s overseas trips such as by boarding the presidential private jet, given that she is a former businessperson without any official public posts.

According to the officials from the ruling party, Mrs. Shin had left for Spain earlier than the presidential retinue to survey the venue and was believed to have provided support for First Lady Kim Keon-hee during President Yoon’s visit to Madrid. Shin was seen along with some of the staff members of the presidential office in Madrid, which was exposed to street-level bureaucrats and reporters. After the NATO meeting, Shin was reported to have returned to Korea on Friday along with President Yoon and his wife, the presidential retinue, and a group of reporters.

A second daughter of the chief director of a renowned oriental medical foundation, Shin married Secretary Lee in January 2013, who was then a prosecutor. “My understanding is that she provided behind-the-scenes support for the president and the first lady during his election campaign,” said an official from Yoon’s election camp. Having served as the head of a company related to oriental medicine, Shin stepped down from the position on April 30 this year, and its corporate registration was executed on May 10. Because of this, pundits are speculating that she was sounding out the possibility of working for the presidential office.

Some pointed out that the first lady is still receiving the assistance from unofficial channels based on her personal relationships. “Shin may have played a support role before the presidential office was established, but she has no records of officially working for the office,” said a staff member from the presidential office. Shin reportedly never applied for any job under the presidential office, and the office has no plan to hire her in the future either. The Dong-A Ilbo tried to contact Secretary Lee and his wife Shin, but they did not respond.

Kwan-Seok Jang jks@donga.com · Joo-Young Jeon aimhigh@donga.com