The DP spokesperson must take responsibility

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The DP spokesperson must take responsibility

The accusation about President Yoon Suk-yeol and Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon binging on drinks in a luxury bar in Cheongdam-dong, southern Seoul, turned out to be entirely fabricated. During a hearing against the Ministry of Justice last month, Democratic Party (DP) Rep. Kim Eui-kyeom claimed that President Yoon, Minister Han, and 30 lawyers from the country’s largest law firm Kim & Chang had a drinking and karaoke party until dawn on July 19. A female cellist from whom the rumor is suspected to have started told police last week that she made up the story to deceive her boyfriend.

Rep. Kim raised the allegation even though it was flatly denied by everyone involved, without checking even basic facts. The lawmaker did not have any information to back the allegation, including the location of the bar. The only evidence he had was a taped conversation with the cellist who claimed she had been at the bar. Rep. Kim did not even bother to check the facts with the cellist. Even Hwang Kyo-ik, a DP loyalist and food columnist, urged the lawmaker to apologize for spreading false news.

Kim and the DP had been attacking President Yoon and Justice Minister Han just based on what-ifs. The majority party holding 169 seats in the 300-member National Assembly went overboard over the unverified information. The leadership of the party even called for the launch of a task force and special investigation into the affair allegedly involving the president, the minister and powerful lawyers from Kim & Chang. They had neglected urgent affairs while having a field day over the scandal. We wonder what excuse the legislator would make after all his allegations proved untrue.

The ungrounded allegation calls for a thorough investigation. If not, fake news that spread from politicians merely based on their immunity prerogative cannot be rooted out. (In Korea, lawmakers cannot be punished for what they said in a legislative session). Kim must resign from his spokesperson title in the DP and comply with judiciary procedures. He simply expressed “regret” upon admitting to the falsehood. But he insisted that he would not ignore tips provided by the public. How someone lacking decorum could have served as the spokesperson for the former president and the majority party is bewildering.

The DP leadership who hyped the scandal purely out of Kim’s accusation also must share the responsibility. The party must strip Kim of the spokesperson title and take appropriate actions such as expelling him from the party. DP Chairman Lee Jae-myung and other members on the leadership must sincerely apologize and promise to not repeat such unscrupulous behavior.
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