Rep. Yoon’s refreshing decisionAfter the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission’s raising of suspicions about real estate wheeling and dealing by Rep. Yoon Hee-sook, a lawmaker from the opposition People Power Party (PPP) and a presidential candidate, Yoon said Wednesday she will resign as a legislator and end her presidential bid. That is very rare. Other lawmakers under such suspicion are busy denying allegations, with no intention of quitting as lawmakers. Yoon’s real estate situation is actually related to her father, not her. The PPP leadership found no problem with her. And yet, she expressed her desire to step down, saying, “This is a path to take as I stressed the values of common sense and conscience in politics.”
The lawmaker also said that the commission wanted to include her on a list to match similar cases affecting the ruling Democratic Party (DP). She said she is quitting her presidential bid so as not to allow the DP to exploit her case given her record of attacks on the Moon Jae-in administration’s real estate policy flops. Despite such political considerations, her reaction is very refreshing.
Asked by reporters about her decision to resign, Yoon pointed to politicians with inadequate qualifications that our people have come to take for granted. She expressed hope that voters apply more stringent moral standards when they judge lawmakers. After a reporter linked her decision to a potential run in the Seoul mayoral election next year, she denied it.
The commission’s findings are not final until a police investigation. But Yoon’ response was very different from other lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. The DP recommended 12 members under suspicion by the commission leave the party, but none did. (Two lawmakers were forced to leave the party, yet keep their status as legislator.) The PPP also excused six of the 12 lawmakers under suspicion by the commission.
The two major parties feign to heed public opinion, but Rep. Kim Eui-kyeom, a former presidential spokesman and lawmaker from the splinter Open Minjoo Party, a satellite of the DP, steadfastly sticks in his seat in the legislature. After Kim denied suspicions from the commission, Rep. Choi Kang-wook, head of the minor party, refused to expel him. “Such suspicions are an old story, right?” he said. Former Justice Minister Cho Kuk did not apologize even after his wife was sentenced to four years in jail in an appellate trial for making fake documents for their daughter to get admitted to a top university. Rep. Yoon’s fate will be determined by voting in the National Assembly or by the assembly speaker. But we hope her decision marks a turning point in the integrity of lawmakers in Korea.