Nam jets home after son busted for drugs

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Nam jets home after son busted for drugs

Gyeonggi Gov. Nam Kyung-pil cut short a trip to Germany on Monday to come home after his son was arrested for use of methamphetamines.

“I apologize to the people of Korea and to the residents of Gyeonggi,” Nam wrote on his Facebook page on Monday morning. “I just heard from my family that my oldest son, who has a record of physically abusing lower-ranked soldiers during his military service, has again committed a crime. I will return on the next flight available from Berlin.”

Nam has two sons. His eldest son, 26, was arrested by the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency on Sunday night for drug use.

“Nam’s son was arrested around 11 p.m. Sunday in front of the Gangnam District Office in southern Seoul for the use of philopon,” police said, using the local nickname for methamphetamines.

Nam’s son told police that he bought 4 grams (0.14 ounces) of philopon from China on Friday and smuggled it into Korea and that he had already consumed 2 grams of it “by himself at home on Saturday.”

Police caught him by chatting with him in an online messaging website. On Saturday, Nam’s son offered to share the drug with the policeman he was chatting with, who pretended to be a woman. He was arrested when they met.

Police found the remaining 2 grams of methamphetamines at his home.

“He doesn’t have any record for drug abuse but we will have to question him on this,” police said.

Nam’s son was indicted in 2014 for physically and sexually abusing lower-rank soldiers during his military service. He was sentenced to eight months in prison and suspended for two years.

After that he dropped out of university and went to Morocco and the United Arab Emirates for volunteer work at a farm and a hospital. He is now an office worker.

Nam was on a trip to Finland and Germany to promote investments in Gyeonggi. His trip was originally planned to end today.

“He’s looking for the fastest way home,” said an official of the Gyeonggi provincial government. “Gov. Nam will explain more once he gets here.”

The news hit the opposition Bareun Party, of which Nam is a member, not long after its former leader, Lee Hye-hoon, had stepped down earlier this month over a corruption scandal.

Lee is alleged to have received about 60 million won ($53,263) in cash and gifts from a businessman from October 2015 to March this year, in return for offering business favors. Lee has denied the allegations.

Both Lee and Nam were part of a group within the party opposing a merger with the Liberty Korea Party (LKP), from which 20 lawmakers defected in January to form the party. They left the party over the LKP’s stance on then-President Park Geun-hye in the months leading up to her removal from office on March 10. The LKP was formerly the Saenuri Party, which Park belonged to.

Critics question whether the scandals involving Nam and Lee may taint the Bareun Party’s image and slogan, “The upright and clean conservative party.”

The news may also affect Nam’s re-election chances next year.

BY CHOI MO-RAN, ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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