Mother denies that chief prosecutor is her son’s father

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Mother denies that chief prosecutor is her son’s father

The mother of a son born out of wedlock has denied that Prosecutor-General Chae Dong-wook is the father. The Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported Friday that Chae had had an extramarital affair with the woman in 2002, and said the boy’s school records confirmed that the chief prosecutor was the father.

But in yesterday’s edition, the Chosun Ilbo said it had received a letter Tuesday from the woman, who identified herself by her national registration ID number and fingerprint and said those allegations were not true.

“I’m the woman that media have reported as the mother of Chae’s secret 10-year-old boy,” the mother was quoted as saying in the letter. “I gave birth to a man’s child and later registered the boy at my district office without naming the father. It is true that the prosecutor-general and the birth father have the same last name, but they are two different persons. My child isn’t related to Chae [Dong-wook] at all. The reason I decided to send this letter to the media is because I didn’t want to see an innocent person getting hurt.”

Under the country’s family registration law, a single mother can register her child with or without naming the father. Local district offices do not verify the identity of the stated father if a name is entered.

“Raising a child as a single mother is very difficult in Korea,” the woman continued. “I decided to put the name of my child’s father as Chae Dong-wook without his consent when he entered elementary school as I wanted my son to be grown up as a decent person like him. Also, as a person running a bar, I wanted to feel like I’m being protected.” She added that she had told her family that the son’s father was the prosecutor-general because she wanted to avoid persistent questioning from them about his identity. She had never thought, she said, that the matter would snowball to the extent it had. She said she would not reveal the name of her son’s father.

The mother said she and Chae had met in Busan, where she owned a bar he patronized. He was also a customer at another bar she opened later in Seoul. That description tracks generally with Chosun’s earlier reports that Chae had met the woman in June 1999 when he was a senior prosecutor at the eastern branch of the Busan District Prosecutors’ Office. The newspaper, though, said that he had fathered her child in July 2002 when he was the chief of the narcotics investigation department at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office in Seoul.

She said Chae moved to the Uijeongbu District Prosecutors’ Office in Gyeonggi in 2000 and had visited her bar in Seoul with his coworkers. “He was polite and gentle, and I respect him,” she said. “But I haven’t had any contact with him for years and never received any financial support from him. If he really were the father of my child, I would have asked him for help with child-rearing expenses.”

Chae was triumphant. “Once again, I want to make clear to all my coworkers that the Chosun’s report about me isn’t true,” he said at a meeting of senior prosecutors Tuesday. “My conscience is clear as the prosecution chief and a family breadwinner.”

Last week, he had appeared to equivocate when first asked about the matter, but later vigorously denied the accusation and offered to take a DNA test to prove he was not the boy’s father.


BY KIM KI-HWAN, KWON SANG-SOO [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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