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Parties collide over ‘Daejang-dong scandal’

Posted October. 22, 2022 07:43,   

Updated October. 22, 2022 07:43


Lee Jae-myung, the leader of Korea's main opposition Democratic Party, asked President Yoon Suk-yeol and the ruling People Power Party on Friday for a special counsel investigation into the so-called "Daejang-dong, Hwacheon Daeyu Asset Management" scandal. The move is considered a response to rising accusations against Kim Yong, a deputy director for the Institute of Democracy under the Democratic Party's in-house think tank and also Lee's close associate, over accepting illegal political funds. Lee’s proposal for the investigation includes illegal loans made by Busan Savings Bank, which Lee claims is related to Yoon's close aides.

The opposition party leader said that his party, which currently controls the National Assembly, will ensure that the probe is conducted even if the ruling party rejects it. The People Power Party, however, immediately expressed outright refusal, dismissing the proposal as just another stalling tactic. Korea's politics is expected to be mired in yet another turmoil related to the "Daejang-dong" scandal just like during the presidential election.

Lee said he did not receive even a single piece of candy, let alone illegal political funds, at the press conference on Friday morning, which he urgently requested. He continued with some aggressive remarks that the ruling party was crossing the line to manipulate the case because they could not find anything after digging in deep and that the facts and the truth of the case were being distorted while blatantly pushing forward with political suppression and retaliation.

Lee also noted that the statements from the persons of interest have changed as the administration and the prosecutors changed, blaming prosecutors loyal to President Yoon for fabricating lies to create a truth instead of finding the facts of the matter to punish the real criminals. Lee added that the nation's law enforcement should no longer be wasted on inspecting unfounded speculations. The Daejang-dong case should be investigated thoroughly and meticulously from head to toe through the special counsel probe.

Lee said his proposed investigation would include Daejang-dong land development and Hwacheon Daeyu Asset Management case, accusations surrounding illegal loans by Busan Savings Bank, residential property transactions by President Yoon's father, and manipulated investigations and subornation of perjury. Regarding the questions on further plans if the ruling party does not accept the proposal, Lee said he would not back down this time as he has insisted at the presidential debate on TV to conduct the special counsel investigation. He vowed to push ahead with the unilateral passage of the special investigation if the ruling party continues to refuse.

The People Power Party immediately rejected the proposal. Joo Ho-young, the floor leader of the ruling party, countered via the press conference he held on the same morning that Lee avoided the special counsel probe citing various excuses when the prosecution investigation was not going properly but now insisted on conducting the probe when the prosecution investigation is going well and properly under the new administration. Joo added that obsessing with President Yoon once again is another attempt by Lee to cloud the issues over Daejang-dong land development, which he used to call one of his biggest achievements. Joo noted that people would surely know why Lee suddenly asked for the special counsel investigation now.

The Presidential Office remarked that the special counsel investigation was an issue that needs to be discussed between the parties, distancing itself from the controversy. “The ruling party should deal with the issue after releasing an official announcement,” a high-ranking official said. “The Presidential Office is in no position to respond.”

Ji-Hyun Kim jhk85@donga.com · Kyung-Suk Kang coolup@donga.com