Yoon must resignIn a shocking press conference on Monday, Lee Yong-soo, a 91-year-old survivor of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery, denounced the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan for exploiting the former sex slaves. In reaction, Yoon Mee-hyang, former head of the civic group aimed at helping the former sex slaves and a lawmaker-elect of the ruling Democratic Party (DP), has kept her silence. She disappeared after having a radio interview last week — and did not even participate in a workshop for lawmakers-elect of the DP on Wednesday.
The public is increasingly demanding her resignation from the post of legislator. According to a Realmeter survey, 70.4 percent said she must step down. In particular, 57.1 percent of liberals — and a whopping 84.4 percent of conservatives — called for her to step down, while 80.4 percent of respondents in their 20s did the same. That means the issue went beyond the ideological divide. The reasons why Yoon must resign are abundant. She faces a prosecutorial investigation on charges of embezzlement, breach of duty and violation of the public donations act.
Yoon became a proportional representative candidate for the Citizen Party, a satellite of the DP, ahead of the April 15 parliamentary elections. Therefore, the DP should take responsibility for her nomination. And yet, the ruling party is busy defending her even after Lee Yong-soo on May 7 raised serious questions about her alleged misuse of donations the civic group collected. DP Chairman Lee Hae-chan stressed the need for the party to “not surrender to any allegations against her.”
Kim Ou-joon, an outspoken liberal podcaster, joined the chorus by attacking Lee and defending Yoon. We can hardly deny the role Yoon played from the initial stages of the movement to expose the cruel treatment the sex slaves received from the Japanese imperial army during the war. However, the civic group’s opaque accounting practices and Yoon’s arrogant behavior has dealt a critical blow to the reputation of the group.
If Yoon believes that time is on her side, that’s a big mistake. Rather than sticking with a legislative seat, she must tell the truth and receive punishment if the allegations prove true. After the Lee’s bombshell revelations, the civic group and the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, an upgraded entity of the group, are at a crossroads. They must transform from an exclusive group to an open one. That’s the only way for them to survive.
JoongAng Ilbo, May 28, Page 34