Lee Jae-myung, leader of the Democratic Party, holds a special press conference on Friday morning. (Yonhap)
Main opposition Democratic Party leader Lee Jae-myung urged President Yoon Suk-yeol and the ruling People Power Party to accept the special prosecution of controversial property development as political tension escalates after the prosecution arrested Lee’s close aide on election violation charges.
As the prosecution’s investigation into the property development related to Daejang-dong spread to allegations of illegal presidential campaign funds, Lee counter-attacked by raising suspicions of President Yoon’s involvement in the Daejang-dong scandal.
Lee held a special press conference at the National Assembly Friday and said, “This is a good opportunity to shake off all suspicions. If the president and the ruling party are proud, there will be no reason to reject the special prosecution.”
Lee called for an end to “political retaliation” and a focus on improving “people’s livelihoods.”
His remarks immediately came after the prosecution sought an arrest warrant for his close aide Kim Yong, vice president of The Institute for Democracy, on charges of violating the Political Fund Act.
Kim is suspected of receiving 847 million won ($589,000) in illegal political funds from Nam Wook, a private developer in Daejang-dong, on four occasions between April and August last year. The prosecution believes that the amount that Kim received was 600 million won. At the time, Kim was in charge of raising funds for the presidential election and managing the organization at Lee’s camp.
The prosecution believes that Kim requested about 2 billion won from former Seongnam Development Corporation’s planning department head Yoon Dong-gyu in February last year to fund Lee’s presidential election campaign earlier this year.
Prosecutors arrested Kim on these charges and raided his home Wednesday. They also sought to raid Kim’s office in Yeouido but failed to execute the warrant due to opposition from the Democratic Party.
After the arrests, he denied all of his charges, saying he never asked for or received money from Yoo during the prosecution’s investigation.
Kim said, “The allegations that (I) received illegal funds from Daejang-dong property developers is not true at all. They are creating crimes that do not exist.”
Lee also said the day before, “I never spent a single won of illegal funds in running election funds.”
“Kim is a person I trusted for long time and I believe in his innocence,” he said.
By Shin Ji-hye ([email protected])