Leader of association for patriots' families resigns
Kim Won-wung, a controversial leader of an association representing descendants of patriots who fought for Korea's independence from Japan, stepped down from the post on Wednesday over corruption allegations.
"I am embarrassed about the latest situation," Kim, chairman of the Heritage of Korean Independence (HKI), said in a statement released Wednesday. "I apologize for having tainted the pride of the HKI members and disgracing the HKI."
Last week, the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs, which oversees the HKI, announced that it asked the police to investigate an allegation that Kim had misappropriated the organization's funds. The ministry said its recent audit found that profits from the HKI's cafe inside the National Assembly, originally intended to be put toward a scholarship program, were misappropriated by Kim.
According to the ministry's report to the National Assembly, Kim used the misappropriated funds for personal agendas. Of nearly 73 million won ($61,000) allegedly misappropriated by Kim, some 44 million won was found to have been used to purchase clothes. The ministry reportedly found that Kim used another 600,000 won at a massage parlor near his home.
Following the ministry's announcement, members of the HKI demanded that Kim resign and scheduled a general assembly on Friday to dismiss him. The members said they would occupy the headquarters of the HKI starting 2 p.m. Wednesday and stage a sit-in until Kim steps down.
Kim initially denied the allegations, but on Wednesday announced that he will step down, before any action was taken by the HKI members.
In his statement, Kim still shifted the blame to other people for the alleged misappropriation. "I did not have an eye for hiring good workers and failed to manage and oversee them properly," Kim said. "It is my fault."
Kim, a 77-year-old former three-term lawmaker, was elected as the head of the HKI in June 2019. The tenure of the HKI chairman is four years.
Since he took office, he has stirred a series of controversies with his politically charged remarks, although the law forbids the HKI to engage in any political activities.
He stirred public criticism for arguing that the legacy of the late Korean War hero General Paik Sun-yup was exaggerated and denouncing both President Syngman Rhee, the first president of the country, and Ahn Eak-tai, composer of the national anthem, as Japanese collaborators.
He also called the United Future Party, predecessor of the current main opposition People Power Party, a "pro-Japan" organization and singled out some of its politicians for having protected Japanese collaborators.
BY SER MYO-JA [email@example.com]