By Kim Han-joo
SEOUL, May 12 (Yonhap) -- Opposition leader Lee Jae-myung on Friday ordered an ethics inspection of fellow lawmaker Kim Nam-kuk over his suspected cryptocurrency transaction during parliamentary meetings, according to the party's spokesperson.
Kim of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) has been under intense media and public scrutiny following revelations he had owned around 800,000 Wemix coins in 2021, worth around 6 billion won (US$4.5 million), a significant amount inconsistent with his frugal image.
Allegations further surfaced that the first-term lawmaker traded cryptocurrency coins while he was attending at least two meetings of the judiciary committee of the National Assembly in May and November of last year.
"Lee instructed an emergency ethics inspection to determine whether Kim, as an elected public official and a party lawmaker, has compromised the dignity," Kwon Chil-seung, the DP spokesperson, said in a text message sent to reporters.
The inspection is separate from the ongoing DP investigation into potential irregularities related to Kim's coin trading.
Lee's move appears to be aimed at minimizing potential backlash over the party's moral hazard and maintaining strong support from young voters.
According to a poll released by Gallup Korea on Friday, the approval rating of the DP remained at 32 percent, the same level as the previous week.
However, the approval rating among people aged 18-29 and in their 30s dropped significantly to 19 percent and 33 percent, respectively, compared with 31 percent and 42 percent the previous week.
Kim has claimed he had used the proceeds from the sale of his LG Display stocks to buy some virtual assets for the first time. Some industry watchers suspect the first virtual asset Kim bought was BitTorrent, not Wemix.
Earlier Friday, Kim reiterated his stance that the source of his funds is transparent and that there are no issues with the transactions. However, he stated he is currently reviewing transaction records to determine whether the coins were traded during the committee meetings.
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