Ahn opens up about daughter’s expenses

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Ahn opens up about daughter’s expenses

The People’s Party made public key private information on Tuesday surrounding the daughter of its presidential candidate, Ahn Cheol-soo, in an attempt to put an end to snowballing speculation surrounding her lifestyle.

Rep. Son Kum-ju, senior spokesman of the party, held a press conference and disclosed the personal assets of Ahn Surl-hee, the presidential candidate’s 28-year-old daughter. “As of April 2017, she owns about 112 million won [$97,689] worth of cash deposits and insurance policies,” he said. “She also owns a car worth about $20,000 at the current market value.”

Son said her assets came from her parents and grandparents over a long period of time. She also saved some of her annual income, worth up to 40 million won, he added.

Ahn’s daughter is currently attending a doctoral program at Stanford University. She is working as a teaching assistant.

“Ahn provided her tuition up to university and the first semester of graduate school,” Son said. “We want to make clear once again that she owns no real estate properties or stocks in any country, including Korea and the United States.”

Son also disclosed private information concerning her citizenship. “She was born in March 1989,” Son said. “She was born at Seoul National University Hospital at 28 Yeongeon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul. She never had U.S. citizenship. She didn’t even apply for a green card.”

According to Son, Ahn Surl-hee lived in the United States from July 1996 to December 1997 with her parents, who were visiting scholars at the time. She attended public school for one year, he said. She returned to Seoul in December 1997 and graduated Gawon Elementary School in Seoul in February 2002. “Some claimed that she went to school between 1998 and 1999 in the United States, but that is groundless,” he said.

Son said she enrolled in the doctoral program at Stanford in June 2012. “By working as a teaching assistant, she earned $29,891 in 2013. Since then, she is receiving annual income in the $30,000 range,” Son said, adding that the Public Service Ethics Act allows an exclusion of such income from family assets disclosures.

After Ahn refused to make public private information concerning his daughter and her assets, his rivals, particularly members of the Moon Jae-in campaign, raised the suspicion of tax evasion. In 2013, when Ahn ran for the legislative by-election in Seoul’s Nowon District, he reported that his daughter had 94 million won in assets, but he has refused to make public that information since 2014.

It was not the first time Ahn’s daughter became an issue in his political career. When Ahn made his first presidential bid in 2012, he faced accusations that his daughter was living a luxurious life in the United States during her study abroad. Ahn dropped out of the race on the eve of the election, consolidating his candidacy with Moon, and the issue disappeared.

Earlier in the morning, Rep. Park Jie-won, chairman of the People’s Party, said in an interview that the party will soon disclose information about Ahn’s daughter and Moon must reciprocate by responding to whether his son received special treatment.

Moon’s son, Joon-yong, was hired in 2006 at the state-run Korea Employment Information Service, while his father was working as the political senior secretary for the Roh Moo-hyun Blue House. An accusation was made that the employment was an outcome of special treatment, but the Moon campaign has denied it.

“We are making public Ahn’s daughter’s assets, because of the Moon campaign’s demand,” Park said. “Moon must explain the suspicious employment of his son.”

Meanwhile, the party’s primary in Gwangju faced another suspected election law violation, as the National Election Commission launched a probe into the allegation that an illegal, organized attempt was made to mobilize university students en masse to cast votes.

JTBC reported Monday that students were mobilized to participate in the first round of the party’s primary, which took place in Gwangju on March 25. According to the report, about 200 students from Wonkwang University in Iksan arrived by charter buses.

The election watchdog is investigating the matter. “We are investigating who arranged their participation,” a commission official said. The investigation will look into who chartered the buses and paid the student’s expenses.

The March 25 primary in Gwangju, participated in by people from the city, South Jeolla and Jeju, was already marred in a scandal. The election commission petitioned the prosecution to investigate two People’s Party officials who used 17 rental cars to bring 130 voters to the event. They reportedly worked in the district of Rep. Song Ki-seok, a close associate of Ahn, and the prosecution launched an investigation last week.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]
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