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Member since: Sat Mar 14, 2009, 09:45 PM
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South Korea: Odd Behavior by Democratic Party Leader Lee Nak-yon?

Lee Nak-yon is one of the leading candidates for president in the next general election in South Korea in the spring of 2022. He was the democratic Prime Minister of South Korea until January 2020. He was elected to the 21st National Assembly April 15, 2020. Now he is the current party leader of the ruling democratic party in the National Assembly.

(Image source: SBS youtube 10.11.20) Lee Nak-yon calls for a strict and thorough investigation of the allegations related to the Optimus Fund. He said he would respond strongly to any false allegations.

Recently, out of the blue, Lee called for pardoning imprisoned former presidents of South Korea, Park Geun-hye and Lee Myong-bak. This proposal has thrown the democratic party into disarray. As if it weren't enough, after more than a year long prosecution of the former justice minister, Cho Guk, and his wife, attempts to curb the prosecutorial abuse and misconduct of Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-yeol are being resisted within and without government, and the current Justice Minister Chu Mi-ae has submitted an offer to resign to President Moon Jae-in. What all this means is that Moon Jae-in's central agenda to reform the criminal justice system, particularly the prosecution offices, to end the continuing corruption and abuse by the "republic of lawyers" appears to be going off the rails.

Lee's unexpected and untimely proposal of pardons for the two corrupt former presidents on the right, is associated with support for his run at the presidency at a 15 percent percent level, according to a poll this week. There is no benefit whatever to President Moon's office or his policies in presenting such a divisive issue now. It's a betrayal of the principles of Moon Jae-in's political career and the aspirations and sacrifices of his democratic party supporters, past and present.

It is likely that Lee like other potential presidential hopefuls has been targeted by Prosecutor Yoon's "division" in prosecution offices. Since October, one of Lee's close aides was under investigation for allegedly receiving an unreported contribution in violation of campaign finance laws in the form of use of a multi-function copier (in kind) from the scandal ridden Optimus Fund. The value involved appears to be less than 3000 dollars total for use over a period from February to May 2020. The case allegedly was referred by the Seoul Election Management Commission for investigation by prosecutors. In early December, when Lee's aide took a break from questioning during the investigation for dinner, he apparently commited suicide. The body was found later. According to one critic, Lee has been strangely quiet concerning the investigation and death of his aide. Earlier when questioned about the alleged campaign finance violation, Lee Nak-yon told the press, leaving the borrowed copier contributed by a staff member's "acqaintance" off the financial report was a mistake. Lee's deceased aide had previously been found guilty of a campaign finance law violation committed in 2014. The entire episode has a deju vu quality related to other politically motivated investigations under Yoon's dominion.

The countervailing development was that Prosecutor Yoon Seok-yeol himself was subject to investigation and discipline for professional and ethical violations by a disciplinary committee appointed by Justice Minister Chu. Although the committee's disciplinary hearing in Yoon's case only resulted in a two month suspension from his duties as Prosecutor General, it was hoped this would mark the beginning of his effective removal from office due to other circumstances discussed in our previous blog posts. Yet, this was not to be the case. Yoon filed for an court injunction to stay the decision, which was granted in another unexpected development, and Yoon is now back in the saddle to continue his investigative and prosecutorial attacks on his political rivals on the democratic side.

It appears as if Yoon may have found Lee Nak-yon's weak point. It's evident that the Optimus scandal was being spun away from the right, and in Lee Nak-yon's direction. Critics on the left of Lee's recent blunder in calling for pardons are fearful of outcomes in the upcoming Seoul and Pusan elections for mayor and want Lee to step down as party representative. It seems incompetent for Lee and a party communications representative to call for a party decision pro or con on the pardon issue. It's untimely, it's the responsibility of the current president rather than the National Assembly or presidential candidates to determine. Additionally, it distracts the party from the major reform efforts before it, pressing current economic and public health issues, and drives a wedge in the party ranks. There is literally nothing to be gained from taking up what is essentially a right wing cause celebre. Lee Myung-jae, the Gyeonggido governor and leading democratic presidential candidate (who recently experienced an unjustified prosecution and trial based upon contrived charges) said it was not appropriate for him to say whether pardons were in order, as it was exclusively a discretionary authority of the sitting president.

Yoo Sang-won, is the democratic candidate for Mayor of Seoul in the upcoming by elections. The current vacancy in the office is the result of another unjustified political investigation started by the prosecutor's office against Mayor Park Won-soon. The recently deceased Mayor was unjustifiably charged with sexual assault and sexual harrassment by his former secretary, who had worked for him for four years. After being notified of the charges under investigation, the Mayor committed suicide.* Mayoral candidate, Yoo Sang-won, currently a National Assembly member said he opposes any consideration of pardons because neither former president has expressed remorse or apologized for their wrongdoing. Secondly, the post trial litigation process in former president Park's case is not final. He said the rule of law must be recognized and carried out, and that he expected the will of the people as demonstrated in the Candlelight Revolution would be reflected in the outcome.

*See: Deceased Mayor Park Won-soon- Trial by Media in South Korea, 9.14.20; https://civilizationdiscontents.blogspot.com/2020/09/deceased-mayor-park-won-soon-trial-by.html


홀스형의 시사건건 (youtube) 1.3.21; 이낙연 긴급최고회의 소집? 혹시 윤석열에게 무슨 약점이라도 잡혔나요?

서울신문, 12.4.20; 이낙연 옵티머스 복합기 의혹 측근, 숨진 채 발견 ( 종합2보 ) 신진호 기자; http://m.seoul.co.kr/news/newsView.php?id=20201204500002
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