Law firm denies conspiring with Blue House on ex-Busan mayor’s sexual assaultA law firm involved in the settlement process between former Busan Mayor Oh Keo-don and his sexual assault victim denied an allegation that it had contacted the Blue House about the scandal ahead of Oh’s resignation last week.
The JoongAng Ilbo contacted Jung Jae-sung on Monday, a lawyer who is heading the law firm “Busan,” about an allegation that the Blue House and the ruling Democratic Party (DP) had arranged Oh’s resignation and admission of sexual assault to take place after the April 15 general elections. The law firm, once headed by President Moon Jae-in, played a key role in arranging Oh’s resignation at the demand of his victim.
Oh resigned Thursday after admitting to molesting a female employee of the Busan city government. The resignation took place one week after the DP’s landslide victory in the general elections.
After the victim was assaulted in early April, she reported the incident to the city government and the Busan Counseling Center Against Sexual Violence. Oh admitted to the offence, and the law firm was hired to notarize Oh’s statement that he would step down before the end of April, making the promise to the victim legally binding. It is unclear how this particular law firm was chosen.
The JoongAng Ilbo sent a text message to Jung on Monday, asking about the main opposition United Future Party (UFP)’s accusation of the Blue House’s influence. “I am a lawyer, not a public servant. Why do I have to report [to the Blue House]? You will know the answer if you think about it based on common sense,” he replied.
It is the first time that Jung made public his stance about the allegation.
The law firm Busan was established by Moon and late President Roh Moo-hyun as an office of lawyers specializing in human rights and labor disputes in 1982. After Roh was elected a lawmaker in 1988, he left the office, and Moon upgraded it to a law firm. Jung ? Roh’s niece’s husband ? is its current head.
“The opposition party said you are a key member of the pro-Moon faction and you can directly communicate with the Blue House. Since you were the chief manager for recruitment in Oh’s mayoral campaign in 2018, they said there is a high possibility that you had communicated with the Blue House or the DP,” the JoongAng Ilbo wrote back.
“Do you think the president of the Republic of Korea is someone a [former] chief manager of recruitment in the Busan mayoral campaign can freely call and meet?” he replied.
Asked about how the law firm was hired to notarize Oh’s promise and if anyone from the ruling party or the Blue House had consulted with the firm after it notarized the document, Jung did not reply.
The Blue House also denied the UFP’s argument that it had arranged the timing of Oh’s resignation to take place after the general elections.
“The argument is absurd,” a senior presidential aide said Tuesday. “When Moon ran for the legislative election in 2012, he sold off all his stakes in the law firm. The president has no relationship with it.”
The official also said the UFP must have had a political motive to insist that the Blue House had prior knowledge about Oh’s sexual assault.
BY LEE EUN-JI [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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