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Yoon, defense minister found to have calls on the day of Corp. Chae’s case being transferred

Yoon, defense minister found to have calls on the day of Corp. Chae’s case being transferred

Posted May. 30, 2024 07:39,   

Updated May. 30, 2024 07:39


President Yoon Suk Yeol was found to have made three calls to then-Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup on the very day when the Marine Corps’ investigation team transferred a probe report on the death of a young Marine corporal surnamed Chae to the police, according to call logs released on Tuesday. The records also include the phone logs between the presidential office and the defense minister on the day the National Security Office held a meeting, which is believed to have created the rumor that the VIP (referring to the President) got “upset.” The communication data were obtained via the court by Col. Park Jeong-hun, who was prosecuted for disobedience.

According to records, President Yoon called then-minister Lee three times on August 2 last year on his private mobile, which he had used while working as a prosecutor. The calls were made at lunchtime at 12:07, 12:43, and 12:57 p.m., lasting one to thirteen minutes. It was the first day of President Yoon’s six-day summer break – when things were taken care of quickly and swiftly, including the case referral to the North Gyeongsang Provincial Police Agency and the dismissal of the lead investigator. Around the time these three calls were made, records found that the defense minister got calls from the prime minister, the head of the presidential National Security Office, the interior and safety minister, and the head of the Office for Government Policy Coordination. All of the suspicious phone logs implied that something was going on at the core of leadership. The day after President Yoon made the fourth call on Aug. 8, the defense minister ordered his ministry to take on the Marine Corps’ survey report for further review.

The controversial case should have been investigated to see if the heart-wrenching death of this 20-year-old corporal resulted from coercive directions from leadership and take necessary action accordingly. However, the focus has been shifted to finding out if the presidential office intervened in the investigations since it was claimed that President Yoon got upset about holding the commanding general accountable for this “mere” accident. No matter what, records found that President Yoon made as many as three calls during the lunch break although it is unknown if he had any urgent reason to do so.

The NSO meeting on July 31 last year is at the core of the recently released phone log and the phone conversation recorded on the mobile of the commander of the Marine Corps about President Yoon getting “angry.” Around the time the meeting was wrapped up, someone called the defense minister on a landline phone installed at the presidential office. The focus of the investigation is to see what the defense minister was told following President Yoon’s remarks during the meeting. It also concerns the presidential nomination of the defense minister as then ambassador to Australia, which led him to leave the country before the general elections.

Either the government or the military can make wrong decisions. It matters more not to hide and distort truths; otherwise, such deceptive attempts only result in a series of bigger issues involving abuse of authority. Nothing can get in the way of finding facts as of now. Given that the phone logs clearly show that the four calls occurred between President Yoon and the defense minister, it is not the right time for the presidential office to avoid the issue and stay on the sidelines. It is supposed to give explanations to the public.