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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Oct. 14)

All News 06:50 October 14, 2021

Clear all suspicions

Weeks after the explosive land development scandal broke, lawyer Nam Wook, a major stakeholder in the development project led by Gyeonggi Gov. Lee Jae-myung when he was Seongnam mayor, has made significant testimony. In an interview with JTBC, Nam suggested the possibility that the "him" mentioned in a transcript submitted to prosecutors refers to someone higher than Yoo Dong-gyu, a former acting president of the Seongnam Development Corporation. In the transcript, Kim Man-bae, a major shareholder of Hwacheon Daeyu — an asset management company at the center of the scandal — says that half of Cheonhwa Dongin No. 1, an affiliate of Hwacheon Daeyu, is owned by "him."

Nam also reaffirmed the plan of Hwacheon Daeyu to give 5 billion won ($4.2 million) to each of seven people not directly involved in the development project. The list of the people includes former Supreme Court Justice Kwon Soon-il and former special prosecutor Park Young-soo.

Lawyer Nam's remarks contrast with what Kim Man-bae said earlier. After appearing at a prosecutor's office Monday, Kim denied the authenticity of his alleged remarks on "him." Kim claimed that he made such remarks to cheat Jeong Young-hak, a certified public accountant and another stakeholder, who submitted the sensitive transcript to the prosecution.

Criticisms of the prosecution and the police for their half-baked investigation continue. President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday ordered the prosecution and police to conduct a "swift and thorough investigation of the case." Another concern involves senior prosecutors' close relations with Justice Minister Park Beom-gye and his predecessor Choo Mi-ae, both of whom are pro-government figures. As a result, law enforcement agencies dragged their feet on the scandal. Prosecutor General Kim Oh-soo hurriedly ordered close cooperation with the police on the scandal. Nevertheless, a former senior prosecutor underscored the need to assign the investigation to a neutral senior prosecutor.

In a meeting on Wednesday, the ruling Democratic Party (DP) leadership refused to accept complaints from former Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, who was defeated in the primary on Sunday by Gov. Lee, over the vote count. But it is unclear if Lee's supporters would accept the party leadership's decision. They said they received a piece of critical evidence that can prove Gov. Lee's involvement in the scandal. Lee vowed to appear at the National Assembly's audit of the Gyeonggi provincial government next week to find a way out of the quagmire. If he is so determined, he does not have to wait until next week.
(END)

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