Poor excuses fuel confusionRuling Democratic Party (DP) presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung and his wife Kim Hye-kyung must not think they can bully the press or whistle-blowers without properly explaining a number of suspicions they raised ahead of the March 9 presidential election.
The couple had apologized after a fifth-rank employee of the Gyeonggi Provincial government, surnamed Bae, had made her subordinate run personal errands for Kim, the wife of then-Governor Lee. Kim claimed it was her mistake. Lee also apologized for “having failed to examine carefully if there had been any wrongdoings by provincial government employees, and to check if affairs of a spouse could cause a problem.” But both suggested the errand-running had been entirely Bae’s individual doing without their knowing.
The testimony from the whistle-blower is entirely different. He claimed he had to prescribe medicine on behalf of Kim, deliver food, manage domestic affairs and buy beef for the family with a corporate card. The list went on — delivering holiday gifts to members of the Kim family and preparing groceries for family rituals, as well as Kim using her husband’s corporate card for personal affairs.
Lee’s son has also stirred controversy. While serving in the military, he was hospitalized at Korean Armed Forces Capital Hospital in Seongnam, Gyeonggi, near his home for 52 days from July 2014. His army camp requested the higher unit for a personnel order for hospitalization a month after he became an in-patient. His father was the Seongnam mayor at the time. The Education Command even refused to issue an order for the hospitalization of the son. As DP campaign spokesman Hyun Geun-taek admitted, a conscript cannot do anything without a personnel order from above.
Lame explanations from the DP have only fanned controversy. Doubting the motive of the whistle-blower, Hyun said, “Taping a conversation just because he disagreed with the orders from the boss is beyond comprehension.” But the DP did welcome the exposure of private phone conversations between Kim Kun-hee, wife of Yoon Suk-yeol, the presidential candidate of the rivalling People Power Party (PPP). The DP has committed secondary damage on the victim.
Some DP members are threatening liability on the press if reports are found false. An SBS radio producer had to quit his program at the DP’s protest after he played a song criticizing people for being tolerant of oneself and harsh on others. The DP claims the protest was just. But a press secretary under former President Park Geun-hye had been penalized for protesting to a TV station.
Lee and the DP must play fair. If any wrong was committed, it should be admitted and apologized.