Electd Officials Hounded by AccusationsMr. K reported to the Central Election Management Committee (CEMC) the illegal activities of a candidate running for the Assembly in the 16th National Election. He stated that he possessed physical evidence, including three recorded tapes, one video tape and a check. Accordingly, the CEMC requested that the Prosecutor's Office launch an investigation.
However, on May 12, the day before the election investigation was scheduled to begin, Mr. K was hospitalized following a traffic accident. During an interview with a reporter, Mr. K told a completely different story. He contradicted an earlier statement, during which he explained that he had received the money directly from the candidate, stating that the check was offered as payment for an errand. He alo said the tapes didn't exist, saying, "I exaggerated a little bit in an attempt to incite a more aggressive investigation into the candidate's election campaign." With regards to his sudden shift in attitude, the candidate that lost the election in Mr. K's area alleged that the elected candidate had offered Mr. K a job and 30 million won ($27,300) to change his testimony and to presented the testimony of three eyewitnesses to the Prosecutor office. However, the elected candidate denied the story, insisting, "It's a lie. The defeated cadidate manipulated the entire story."
Prosecutors were puzzled by Mr. K's sudden reversal in testimony. The Prosecutor's office viewed him as a typical con-man. "He tried to extort money from a candidate by threatening to reveal potentially embarrassing information." A source from the Prosecutor's office explained that "Mr. K revealed that he hoped to become a lawmaker. He didn't mean to report illegal activity, he was just trying to capitalize on the election campaign." It is not uncommon for elected candidates to receive threats from election brokers. However, none of the threats have ever been carried out. A member of one of the political parties said that, "There are few candidates who are entirely free of alleged suspicions concerning illegal campaign activities. We'll observe how the newly-elected candidates function in the 16th national assembly."
by Jo Min-gun