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Presidential adviser says allegations of son's school bullying 'exaggerated'

All News 17:01 June 08, 2023

By Lee Haye-ah

SEOUL, June 8 (Yonhap) -- A special adviser to President Yoon Suk Yeol said Thursday that allegations of school bullying involving his son are "distorted and exaggerated," saying his son remains close friends with the alleged victim.

Lee Dong-kwan, special adviser for international relations who is reportedly being considered by Yoon to head the Korea Communications Commission, has been accused by the main opposition Democratic Party of being unfit for the job due to various reasons, including allegations that his son bullied a fellow student while attending Hana Academy Seoul in 2011.

In an eight-page statement to the press, Lee refuted the allegations one by one.

This file photo shows presidential adviser Lee Dong-kwan. (Yonhap)

This file photo shows presidential adviser Lee Dong-kwan. (Yonhap)

"Firstly, regardless of the facts, I am deeply sorry for the school violence controversy surrounding my child's time in high school," he said.

"I refrained from giving a formal response until now under the belief that it would not be the right thing to do to the person with the appointment authority to respond to various allegations surrounding me before I am even nominated as a candidate for public office," he continued.

"However, as even the opposition leader continued to engage in indiscriminate disclosures, and these were spread and reproduced via the press and social media after being distorted and exaggerated, I decided I could no longer remain silent," Lee said.

On allegations that his son made the alleged victim bang his head on a table 300 times, or that his son threw clipped fingernails on a bed, Lee acknowledged there was a "physical fight" between the two in 2011 during their first year of high school but denied it was "one-sided."

He said the two apologized and reconciled at the time, with the alleged victim telling his friends and the press that the reported allegations were exaggerated and that he did not think of the incident as a case of school violence.

The alleged victim's plea not to punish Lee's son or transfer him to another school was also revealed through an interview with their homeroom teacher at the time, Lee said.

The two have kept in touch since graduating from high school and remain close friends, he said, adding such a situation would be "difficult to imagine" if one of them was a victim of school violence.

Lee also refuted allegations that he called the then chairman of the school's educational foundation to pressure him to treat his son favorably, saying he made a phone call "in order to ask what happened so as to understand the situation more accurately."

"Setting aside myself and my family, more than anything, what is most concerning is that this is leading to mental and actual harm to the students who are living faithfully as members of society," he said.

"I urge political circles to be the first to stop the irresponsible disclosures and production of fake news aimed at political warfare. I also ask members of the press to report in a balanced manner based on the facts," he added.


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