“The first lady’s family may have illegally owned vast tracts of land.”
Since the beginning of August, South Korea’s opposition party, the Co-operative Democratic Party, has been on the offensive. The target of the attack is Kim Keon-hee, 50, the wife of President Yun Seong-yeol.
“The ruling that triggered the opposition onslaught came down on July 21. Kim’s mother, Choi Eun-soon, was sentenced to one year in prison on suspicion of forging private documents. The court ruled that Choi was feared to be a fugitive and detained her in court. It is highly unusual for a relative of the president to be convicted and taken into custody,” said a South Korean newspaper reporter.
Choi is alleged to have falsified documents when purchasing land in the northwestern city of Seongnam, Gyeonggi-do. According to the indictment, he falsified certificates of balance on four occasions between April and October 2013 to make it appear that 34.9 billion won (approximately 3.5 billion yen) had been deposited in the bank. Using the false certificates, acquaintance A borrowed billions of won from the victim but did not repay the loan.
Lying in court, “I want to die!”
“In court, A claimed, ‘I am only an agent,’ and ‘I gave all the money to Ms. Choi.’ Ms. Choi denied A’s allegations. I didn’t receive any money,” he said. However, the court ruled that “Ms. Choi led the crime and carried it out in order to acquire a large tract of land. According to the Chosun Ilbo and other media, upon being told of his conviction, Choi said, ‘I want to take the pills and just die!'”
This is not the first time that Choi has come under scrutiny. At the end of 2013, she was indicted for opening a hospital with three acquaintances and improperly receiving 2.2 billion won (about 200 million yen) over a period of about three years. Choi is also rumored to be involved in the “Deutsche Motors stock price manipulation scandal,” which became an issue in Congress in February of this year and was pursued by opposition parties against his daughter, Mrs. Kim. Both cases resulted in acquittals or indictments.
The opposition is thumbing its nose at this latest case of forgery of private documents, in which a guilty verdict was reached. They believe that not only Choe but also Kim’s family members have been illegally enjoying real estate profits through family ties. They are demanding an apology from President Yun, saying that the one-year prison sentence is a “lenient investigation” against the administration.
On the other hand, the ruling party, “People’s Power,” is also vehemently opposing the opposition’s offensive and the court’s decision. It argues that it is unfair to take Choi into custody despite her advanced age of 76. He also called the opposition’s claims a performance designed to rub dirt in the faces of President Yun and his wife. Neither President Yun nor Ms. Kim have made any formal comment on the current turmoil,” said a reporter stationed in Seoul for a national newspaper.
The beautiful first lady of South Korea is very popular, with nearly 100,000 members of her fan club “Keon-Sarang (I love you)”. While her popularity has been on the rise, she is facing the biggest crisis since her inauguration in May last year.