In January 2020, the Seoul Central District Public Prosecutors Office indicted a string of key government officials. Thirteen people were indicted at home for violating the Public Offices Election Law, including the former chief secretary for political affairs. In April 2021, two more people were indicted, including the head of the National Political Situation Office, bringing the total number of government officials arrested to 15. Kim continued,
“According to the indictment, prior to the election, the presidential secretary instructed police authorities in Ulsan to investigate opposition candidates and their close associates on suspicion of corruption. As a result, Song wins. However, both the opposition candidate and his entourage were not indicted after the election.
Officials at the Cheongwadae (presidential office) also asked rivals in the ruling party who were vying for the nomination of a candidate with Soong to abandon their candidacies. It is suspected that Cheongwadae systematically assisted Song in making his campaign promises and illegally removed internal city documents from the city.”
The Ulsan mayoral election case is the most serious allegation of fraud under the Moon administration. However, the trial has been slow in progress. More than two years have passed since the indictment, and not even a verdict is expected anytime soon.
“The biggest reason is that the government’s justice minister, who was at odds with the opposition-affiliated attorney general, obstructed the investigation by moving a large number of prosecutors and others to the left.”
The prosecutor general who was at odds with the justice minister was the current president, Yun Suk-yeol. Upon assuming the presidency, Yun took what could be seen as “retaliatory” action. He ordered a thorough investigation into allegations of misconduct by the previous administration, which had been stalled for some time.
“The focus of the investigation is the involvement of Im Jong-suk, who was the number two secretary-general of Cheongwadae at the time of the incident. The secretariats of the seven divisions of Cheong Wa Dae are also involved in the manipulation of Song’s election. Only the head of the secretary’s office or Moon himself, who was president, can give instructions.
If the prosecutors can obtain evidence to indict Mr. Ren, the situation will change drastically. The investigation will turn to the head of the secretary’s office. If further involvement is revealed, it could lead to the arrest of President Moon Jae-in,” Kim said.
Many of South Korea’s past presidents have met disastrous ends after resigning. The future does not look bright for Moon Jae-in, who is now living in the countryside.