11 million won offered for Woo's whereabouts

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11 million won offered for Woo's whereabouts

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A wanted leaflet offering a reward for finding whereabouts of Woo Byung-woo, a former senior presidential secretary for civil affairs. [SNS SCREEN CAPTURE]

An 11 million won ($9,370) bounty is out for details on the whereabouts of Woo Byung-woo, the former senior presidential secretary who has apparently fled investigations about his role in the massive corruption scandal plaguing Park Geun-hye’s administration.

Woo, a former prosecutor, left his senior Blue House post in late October, just as public discontent with the president and her confidante Choi Soon-sil began to swell.

The disgraced aide faces allegations of dereliction of duty and was supposed to answer questions about Choi and her influence during a National Assembly hearing last Wednesday, but he did not show.

The special legislative committee hosting the hearing failed to hand him requests to appear before the legislature because they could not find him. The papers have legal force only when directly given to Woo or a family member who lives with him.

Last Wednesday, the committee issued an order for him to appear. The order carries harsher punishment than a general request, from which he allegedly fled, but it is easier to avoid because the relevant documents must only be handed directly to him.

If Woo does accept the order to appear but does not show up, the committee can sue him for contempt of the National Assembly. If a local court finds him guilty, he can receive a jail sentence of up to five years.

A reward for details on his whereabouts was initially offered last Wednesday when Chung Bong-ju, a former lawmaker of the Democratic Party, the predecessor of the main opposition Minjoo Party, posted on his Twitter account that he would offer 2 million won to anyone who comes forward with information on Woo’s current location.

The former lawmaker raised the amount to 5 million won on Saturday and added that Rep. Ahn Min-seok of the Minjoo Party would offer a separate amount of 5 million won, bringing the total to 10 million won.

Rep. Kim Sung-tae of the ruling Saenuri Party, who chairs the special legislative committee, said on TV Chosun last Thursday that he would personally offer 1 million won for the details.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, JEONG JIN-WOO [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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