[WORD_ON_THE_WEB] 'Kim dominates the news cycle'President Yoon Suk-yeol and his wife Kim Kun-hee are once again at the center of controversy after it was reported that Yoon's personal secretary Lee Won-mo's wife accompanied the first lady on a recent trip to Spain for a NATO summit.
The woman, surnamed Shin, was part of the advance party and departed for Spain five days earlier than the president and first lady. During the visit, Shin reportedly managed the first lady’s schedule and returned to Korea on the presidential plane.
Shin is known to be an old acquaintance of the first lady but she does not hold an official position as part of Kim's staff. Controversy over Shin's involvement was fueled by the memory of Choi Soon-sil, a confidant of former President Park Geun-hye who was at the center of the scandal that led to Park's impeachment and imprisonment.
“Choi Soon-sil, the key figure who led the formal President Park Geun-hye’s power abuse and corruption, was also an old acquaintance of Park," said Democratic Party interim leader Woo Sang-ho. "Choi was once considered to be a trustworthy person as well."
The presidential office explained that although Shin participated in organizing and managing the schedule, she didn’t accompany the first lady, arguing that Shin volunteered her time to support the first lady and did not get paid.
“Whether she got paid or not is unclear. But a random member of the public accessing the presidential plane?”
“She was provided with flights and accommodations, but the office claims she didn’t get paid? What she was given came from the taxes we paid.”
“They only took one person who can help with their schedule. There is no reason for them to be under fire.”
“Shin didn’t get paid. We should not compare this with the Choi Soon-sil case.”
“Suspicions of Deutsch Motors stock price manipulation, plagiarism for a thesis and taking her friend on an official visit? Kim's should be playing the role of a quiet, supportive first lady.”
“There is too little news on state affairs. Kim dominates the news cycle every day. This is not normal.”
BY HWANG JAE-YOUNG, BY HAN HYE-RIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]