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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Dec. 28)

All News 07:01 December 28, 2021

Lame apology

Candidates should do more to avoid 'family risks'

The wife of main opposition People Power Party (PPP) presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol made a belated apology Sunday over allegations that she had falsified credentials for lecturing posts in colleges. During a press briefing at the PPP headquarters, Kim Keon-hee acknowledged she exaggerated or falsified her career to stand out and felt ashamed of such misdeeds.

It is unprecedented for the wife of a leading presidential candidate to make a public appearance for an apology. Kim blamed herself for exaggerating her career in job applications. She came under pressure from the PPP to apologize as her husband's support rate was declining at a rapid pace. Yet her apology was called into question due to a lack of sincerity in her remarks. She appeared to be focused more on defending Yoon than on reflecting on what she did. So one cannot but raise doubts about her real intention, because of her expression of concerns about the falling popularity of her husband.

Even though she repented for falsifying her resumes, she invited criticism by stopping short of specifying what she had done wrong. This means she made only a "superficial" apology probably at the request of the PPP to shore up her husband's support rate, which was certainly dented by the controversy surrounding her. This also betrays the people's wish to hear a frank and detailed apology from her over a series of suspicions.

Kim offered her apology belatedly 12 days after a local cable channel raised the allegations about her falsified records. But she spent much of the briefing highlighting the merits of her husband, describing him as a soft and amicable spouse. She was apparently trying to woo voters for her husband by revealing her experience of a miscarriage. She even said she would like to disappear if she could to help Yoon get a proper assessment. For this, Kim deserves criticism for defending her husband instead of extending a genuine apology.

Fairness should be held dear. As the wife of a leading presidential candidate, Kim was supposed to candidly admit her faults and take due responsibility. If not, Yoon will fail to regain public support. Kim is facing lawsuits filed by many educational institutes for her falsified credentials. Investigators should get to the bottom of her case regardless of her apology.

Presidential candidates should pay more heed to potential misdeeds by their family members. Earlier, Lee Jae-myung, the presidential candidate of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), also faced allegations that his son was involved in illegal gambling. Yet, he managed to mitigate the repercussion by making a prompt apology, vowing not to have his son repeat such misconduct.

Yoon is also bracing for a family risk since his mother-in-law was found guilty by a court recently for fabricating a bank account document and illegally founding a nursing home and receiving medical fees from the state health insurance system. Yoon should manage his family affairs more strictly.

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