Thank goodness for greed
The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
It is lucky Yoon Mee-hyang was greedy.
She wasn’t satisfied with public and corporate donations made to a civic group for the so-called comfort women but went after political power to become a proportional representative for the ruling party. Thanks to that greed, the candid reality of her “accumulated evils,” which have long been untouched, was exposed.
If she had not been so greedy, Yoon would have been able to control her lucrative business of the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan for a long time, deceive the world and torture the survivors. And Korean society would have paid an enormous cost because no one would dare to challenge her. Therefore, it is lucky for us all that her greed opened an opportunity to lay bare the truth.
Lee Yong-soo, a 91-year-old survivor, made a bombshell revelation earlier this month. She asked Yoon where she had spent all the money collected to help the victims. Instead of answering Lee’s question, Yoon attributed all problems to the civic group’s customary practices, mistakes and a conspiracy by pro-Japan forces and conservative media, expressing her determination to take her seat in the National Assembly.
Sixteen years ago, Shim Mi-ja, another survivor who was recognized as a former comfort woman by a Japanese court, made the same allegations before her death, calling Yoon a “devil.” And yet, Yoon managed to expand her “business” further without any troubles. So, she probably thought she just needs to defend herself against occasional attacks.
That was a miscalculation. Korean society’s transparency has deepened and the public is applying even stricter standards to civic groups. As she is a lawmaker-elect — not a member of a civic group — the ruling party’s protection cannot bury the suspicions. The Korean Council has reportedly skipped recording a whopping 3.7 billion won ($2.97 million) in government subsidies and other public donations. Even if the council committed mistakes, it is impossible to turn a blind eye to such major transgressions.
Another problem involves Yoon’s use of a private bank account to deposit donations. In 2013, she changed one of the fundraising accounts registered under her name to the Korean Council’s name. Then she posted a message on Facebook, “This is more transparent.” This means she already knew that it was not proper to deposit donations in her personal account.
And yet, she has continued using her own account until now and refuses to make public the details of spending, further fueling suspicions.
Yoon and her husband together paid only 6.43 million won in income tax over the past five years. Though they don’t have inherited wealth, they pay hundreds of million won in cash whenever they purchase an apartment. They also sent a daughter to study in the United States and maintain over 300 million won in bank deposits. It is no wonder we want to know about the source of their wealth.
The worst part about this scandal is how Yoon treated the survivors who challenged her directions. Names of her opponents such as the late Shim Mi-ja and Park Bok-soon were not included in the memorial erected by the Korean Council to remember Japan’s cruel treatment of former sex slaves. Though it included names of the survivors whose pasts were not formally confirmed by the government, the council excluded the names of the two survivors who were officially recognized by the government as comfort women victims and erased them from the public memory.
The Blue House, however, defends Yoon, and ruling party officials are following suit. Reps. Kim Doo-kwan and Song Young-gil labeled those who raise suspicions as “new collaborators with Japan.” They even scolded them to “show some respect.”
Celebrities who are close to the Moon administration are no different. They are even insulting Lee as if she is an elderly woman with dementia in order to protect Yoon. The true reality of the reactionary leftist — who calls herself “liberal” — is revealed in the Yoon scandal, following the Cho Kuk scandal.
It remains to be seen if Yoon will actually be able to join the National Assembly, as wished by the Blue House and the Democratic Party (DP) leadership. But even if she does, that will not give legitimacy to Yoon and the DP. Her admission to the National Assembly will boomerang. The world knows the truth now. It was only Yoon, the ruling party and the administration who didn’t see this coming.
As the main opposition, United Future Party is extremely incompetent, the DP is probably dreaming about keeping the presidency for the next 20, 30 or 100 years. But if it keeps acting arrogantly by turning a blind eye to corruption by its own member and awarding them candidacies and lawmaker seats, it will collapse.
Conventional wisdom says that the net of the sky seems loose, but never misses a sinner. If Yoon becomes a proportional lawmaker, she will be caught in the net of the sky eventually, if not immediately.
JoongAng Ilbo, May 22, Page 28