Wonju sex scandal causes gov’t rift

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Wonju sex scandal causes gov’t rift

Government authorities are clashing over the sex-for-influence case that saw a 51-year-old contractor surnamed Yoon accused of offering sexual entertainment as bribes to influential people at a vacation home in Wonju, Gangwon.

The trigger for the conflict was Kim Hak-eui, who resigned as vice minister of the Ministry of Justice on Thursday after being implicated as one of the suspected high-ranking government officials that attended the sex parties.

Days before the Blue House nominated Kim, a high-ranking official of the National Police Agency told the Blue House that the police weren’t investigating Kim.

On the day of Kim’s nomination, March 13, a separate investigator with the National Police Agency contacted the Blue House and told them that the police had some information connecting Kim to the Wonju villa scandal.

“The officers at the time [on the day of the nomination] informed the Blue House that they had not secured the sex video file, but the possibility is high that the allegations about Kim are true, as they have secured testimony from a woman who is believed to had sex with Kim,” a spokesman of the police said.

The Blue House later nominated Kim as the vice minister of the Justice Ministry after receiving the report and also because the 55-year-old Kim strongly denied his allegations.

The difference in the reports caused Kim Ki-yong to be replaced as commissioner general of the NPA, according to the police.

On March 15, Lee Seong-han, commissioner of the Busan Metropolitan Police Agency was nominated as new chief of the NPA.

The police and prosecution also came into a conflict each other over the case.

The prosecution currently maintains that the police, who have been opposed to the revised laws over the criminal investigation jurisdiction that stated police be supervised by prosecutors in every process of investigation, including the preliminary stage, have targeted another high-ranking prosecution official.

The investigation into the Wonju villa was launched by the Crime Intelligence Bureau of the NPA, which previously discovered Kim Gwang-jun, a senior prosecutor of the Seoul High Prosecutors’ Office who was indicted in December last year for taking more than 1 billion won ($900,292) in bribes from corporate officials and a veteran con man.

The prosecution believes that the police are targeting high-level prosecutors.

Kim Hak-eui was the chief of the Daejeon High Prosecutors’ Office until he was nominated vice minister of the Justice Ministry.

However, the police stated that they just came across Kim while investigating Yoon, saying they never targeted a particular prosecutor.

While the government authorities are fighting over the scandal, an incumbent high-ranking government official, who is only identified with his age, 57, was questioned as an informant, according to the police yesterday.

He is the first incumbent government official questioned in the case by the police.

The police said that they summoned the official on Friday and questioned whether he had visited Yoon’s villa in Wonju.

The police said that the official was in charge of a series of national projects carried out between 2008 and 2011.

“I have known Yoon for years and also have visited the villa, but he has never offered sexual entertainment to me,” the official was quoted as saying to the police.

The police added that they will check the traces of money transfers that were made via Yoon’s bank accounts to find out whether there are any money transfers between Yoon and high-ranking government officials.

By Chung Kang-hyun, Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]
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