The fall of the electionThe political clash has escalated over the broadcasting of taped phone conversations between Kim Keon-hee — the wife of opposition People Power Party (PPP) presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol — and a reporter of a pro-government YouTube channel “Voice of Seoul” from July last year. The recordings extend to seven hours, some of which a Seoul court has warranted for broadcasting in an injunction claim by the PPP.
Kim’s behavior can hardly be acceptable as she was “overly frank” with the pro-government social media outlet at a time when her husband joined politics to run for presidency. Questions about her eligibility as the first lady on top of the controversy over faking her credentials in the past could only mount. Her action goes against her earlier pledge “to keep silent for self-reflection during the remainder of the campaign and to act as no more than a wife to Yoon even if he becomes the president.”
The revelation and circulation of the sensitive conversation cannot be deemed normal. The reporter has no right to tape the conversation even if he had told her he was a journalist. It is unclear whether the conversation was made for reporting. The reporter will face moral liability if it was taped and circulated without Kim’s consent.
The media outlet’s motivation is also controversial. The YouTube channel shared the recordings with another pro-government channel as well as terrestrial TV station MBC. MBC has stayed openly favorable to the Moon Jae-in government despite its public role. As the broadcasting was timed ahead of the Lunar New Year’s holiday, it could influence voters ahead of the March 9 presidential election.
The court approved of the broadcasting after leaving out private dialogue and investigation under progress.
The PPP attempted to block the broadcasting and made a visit to MBC to protest its plan to broadcast the conversation. The party should have left the judgement to the public. The ruling Democratic Party (DP) has had a field day over the windfall that will help its presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung. Only a while ago, the DP accused the National Election Commission of violating neutrality when it granted the release of a taped recording of Lee’s temper tantrum. Will the DP stay silent if Lee’s and his wife’s conversations are released?
There was a presidential campaign to “go high when they go low” during the presidential race in the U.S. six years ago. But the Korean race is going lower and lower.