[Editorial] Song must return and tell the truth

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[Editorial] Song must return and tell the truth

In another shocking development, an audio clip has cropped up to suggest the involvement of former Democratic Party (DP) leader Song Young-gil in handing out cash envelopes to members of the party ahead of its national convention in 2021 to elect a new leader of the governing party during the Moon Jae-in administration. In the taped records, a mid-level official of the DP tells its deputy secretary general about Song’s appreciation of his delivery of the envelopes to other party members.

Another audio file hints at Song’s direct involvement in preparing the money for party members to help him win the election to pick a new head. Such evidence points to the possibility that Song, a fifth-term lawmaker at the time, was not only aware of the existence of the cash envelopes, as the prosecution believes, but also delivered the money to the precious few himself. Song ended up winning the internal election of the DP by a razor-thin margin of 0.59 percentage points over the runner-up. The prosecution suspects Song as the orchestrator of the entire scheme.

Rep. Lee Sang-min, a senior lawmaker from the DP, compared the case to a “filthy thing you can only see in a ditch.” Rep. Ko Min-jung, a former Blue House spokesperson, lamented “the collapse of the DP’s image as the champion of democracy.” But the comment the former chair made in such tense moments is unfathomable. Song, who is staying in France for studies, drew a line by putting the blame on “individual deviations.” He even attacked the prosecution for “committing political actions to turn the situation around.”

Current DP Chair Lee Jae-myung asked his predecessor to return from Paris at an earlier date than July. But Song only announced a date for a press conference in Paris. The People Power Party criticized Song for “fleeing the country to hide.” Some senior members of the DP joined the chorus by demanding Song return as soon as possible and apologize.

The repercussion of the mishap does not end with Song. The national convention in May 2021 was a turning point for the party leadership from lawmakers loyal to former president Moon to legislators friendly to current DP leader Lee Jae-myung. After the defeat of the DP in the presidential election last year, Song surrendered his seat representing a district in Incheon to Lee to help him win a by-election in June 2021 to become a lawmaker.

Song’s aides are being investigated for corruption. He must return immediately and tell the truth. That’s the least he can do as the former head of the party and a former leader in the democracy movement in the 1980s.
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