I don’t understand why she is being disciplined without any evidence. I am not satisfied at all, and I would like to request a retrial.”
Lee Joon-suk, 37, a representative of the ruling People’s Power Party, made this appeal at a July 8 meeting of the party’s Central Ethics Committee. Lee received a six-month suspension of his party membership. The disciplinary order, which comes with six months left in his term of office until next January, effectively means the end of his political career.
Lee is a graduate of Seoul Science High School, the most prestigious school in South Korea, and a super-elite who entered Harvard University. Although he has no experience as a member of the National Assembly, he became the party’s representative in June of last year at the young age of 36. He won the two major mayoral elections in Seoul and Busan last April, which he led himself, and was recognized for his achievement in bringing about a change of government in the presidential election this March.
He has excellent communication skills through SNS and is popular among young people in their 20s and 30s. He is also very articulate in dealing with the media, and was considered a candidate for the next presidential election as the ‘prince’ of the ruling party.
Lee’s punishment has also dealt a serious blow to the Yun Suk-yeol administration. His approval rating, which was over 50% at the time of his inauguration, dropped to 32% on July 15. Lee, who had an outstanding reputation, was punished because of allegations of sexual graft. Shinichi Hen, editor-in-chief of Korea Report and an expert on the situation on the Korean Peninsula, explains the circumstances leading up to the revelation of the allegations.
Mr. Lee’s political career dates back to 2011, when Lee Myung-bak was in power. He was scouted by Park Geun-hye, who was preparing to run for the next presidential election at the time, and in 2002, at the young age of 29, he was appointed chairman of the Innovation Committee. Thereafter, he was favored by the Park administration and was known as the “Park Geun-hye Kid.
In 2004, however, he changed his attitude when a scandal involving the granting of benefits to an acquaintance came to light in the Park administration. He left the party and became a supporter of Park’s impeachment. For this reason, he was treated as a traitor and attacked by the pro-Park faction.”
70 million yen to destroy evidence?
The allegations of Lee’s sexual misconduct came to light last December. Mr. Hen continues.
The pro-Park Geun-hye YouTube channel “Carosello Institute,” which felt betrayed, revealed that Lee had twice received sexual entertainment from representatives of IT-related companies in 2001. When Lee denied it, the institute’s legal advisors filed a complaint with the party’s Ethics Committee and filed a complaint with the Central District Prosecutors Office.
In March of this year, the “Carosello Institute” made another accusation in a video. The following complaint was made. The video alleges that “Lee’s aide met with the IT side that had entertained him sexually, and in order to get a stroke of a denial of the allegations, he gave them a memorandum of understanding promising to attract investment worth about 70 million yen and tried to destroy the evidence. The aide refuted the allegation, saying, ‘I gave him a memorandum of understanding worth 70 million yen, but I had nothing to do with Mr. Lee.
Mr. Lee was effectively forced out of his position as president after receiving an unprecedented punishment from the ruling party, which is his family. Some believe that Kim Keon-hee, the wife of President Yun, is behind this.
There are many veterans in the current administration who are not happy with Lee, who was appointed by former President Park at a young age, even though they belong to the same ruling party,” said Kim. If Lee, who is expected to become the next president, continues as the ruling party’s top leader, the party will have to make a generational shift, which could jeopardize their own position. Mr. A, a lawyer affiliated with the ruling party, is said to have instigated the revelation of the sexual entertainment scandal, knowing that his support would decline.
Mr. A himself does not have much influence. It is said that Mrs. Kim is behind the growing furore. Keon-Sarang” is popular with nearly 100,000 members, and President Yun is said to be unable to stand up to Mrs. Kim because of her strong influence over the people. In other words, there is a view that Lee’s downfall was influenced by the presence of Mrs. Kim, who has the support of veteran members of the ruling party,” said Hen.
It seems that Mr. Lee feels that his popularity was used to elect a president and that he was subsequently cut off. After his disciplinary action, he complained to the press.
After his disciplinary action, he complained to the press, “After my victory in the presidential election, I was not appreciated by anyone. Everyone was thinking about ‘after the election.'”
Photo： The People Power Party/Lee Jae-Won/Afro