The rain, which began to fall in flurries, turned into a full-on downpour midway through the ceremony. The rain poured down on the president’s mourning clothes. Mrs. Yun, wearing a raincoat, gently wiped the President’s wet suit and trousers with a towel.
On June 6, a memorial service was held in Dongjak-gu, Seoul, to commemorate the fallen soldiers and martyrs of Korea. President Yun Seong-yeol (61) and his wife Kim Gong-hui (49) attended the ceremony. Mrs. Kim wiped her husband’s mourning clothes after he was drenched by the rain.
Mrs. Kim’s popularity has skyrocketed. Last December, the fan site “Gongsarang (I love Kim Gong Hee)” was launched. The number of members was initially about 30,000, but when Yun assumed the presidency in May of this year, the number grew to nearly 100,000. Even after becoming First Lady, she is still supported for her folksy words and actions, such as taking out meals at downtown markets.
Her personal life is also readily available to the public on Instagram. Her favorite white sandals (about 3,500 yen) on Instagram became a hot topic and sold out at various stores. A search for “Kim Jian-ki” on “Neighbor Shopping,” a major Korean online shopping site, yielded more than 2,500 hits. Even if you narrow down the search to ‘Kim Jian-ki skirt,’ you get about 1,500 hits.
Forced to leave fan site
While Kim’s popularity is growing, there seems to be some backlash. The harassment of the fan site “Gongsarang” occurred late at night on May 28. In an interview with the Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo, the site’s founder stated the following
The site was hacked from 11:40 p.m. on the night of May 28 for about 30 minutes. Ten members of the site’s management staff, including the site’s sub-manager, and ten members of the general public were forced to leave the site. If the hack had not been discovered earlier, the site might have ceased to exist.
Another “Gonsarang” image that drew criticism from opposition lawmakers was a photo posted on May 29 that showed the couple seemingly playing with their dog in the Oval Office. Park Ji-hyun, a member of the opposition Democratic Party of Korea’s Co-operative Democratic Party, called it a mixture of public and private life, and posted the following on her Facebook page
The Oval Office has been turned into a family living room. The Oval Office is a place where important state business is conducted, not a private sphere.
Kim quickly responded to these criticisms by resigning on May 31 from his position as president of Kobana Contents, an art exhibition planning company he runs.
The reason behind this resignation is the growing voices of those who say that she is too conspicuous outside of politics and that she should concentrate on her role as First Lady,” said Mr. Kim. The resignation of the head of the company was probably done to avoid such accusations. On June 5, the Office of the President announced that a waiting room would be set up for Mrs. Kim. This is a sign of the president’s intention to support her to the best of his ability from now on.
As her influence grows, her words and actions are attracting more attention. Perhaps her attentive concern for her husband, President Yun, is part of her calculation.