The state-run National Health Insurance Service on Monday confirmed that a mid-ranking official had illegal access to personal information of a woman suspected to be a mistress of former prosecution chief Chae Dong-wook.
Prosecutors also said they recently summoned the NHIS official to investigate who else was involved in the illegal act, adding that they are looking into allegations the request was made by Cheong Wa Dae officials.
The announcement came after local daily Kyunghyang Shinmun reported that presidential staffers allegedly ordered the state-run insurance service to conduct an unauthorized background check on the woman, identified only by her surname Lim. Lim allegedly gave birth to Chae’s son.
The newspaper said that officials at the office of senior presidential secretary for employment and welfare reportedly obtained the medical records of Chae’s alleged mistress and her son in June 2013, through the NHIS.
The state agency checked Lim’s medical records reported in 2002 and 2003 by a hospital in Seoul, the report said.
The report added that the office of the senior secretary to the president for education and culture is also suspected of collecting the boy’s school records through the chief of the Gangnam District Office of Education, Yoo Young-hwan.
Cheong Wa Dae denied the allegations in a statement Monday.
“We obtained intelligence that a woman who is suspected to be Chae’s wife requested money (from Chae) and received it through her son’s bank account. To confirm the information, we had checked the information of people involved through police and the chief of staff,” officials wrote in the statement. “But it is not true that we had access to health and school records of Lim and her son.”
The latest revelation came after a string of reports allegedly linking the incumbent government with the scandal, including those earlier this year claiming a presidential administrator asked a district official to look for the personal information of the former top prosecutor.
The scandal flared up in June last year when Chosun Ilbo reported that the former chief prosecutor had a son born out of wedlock. Having an extramarital affair is a criminal offense in Korea.
Amid mounting pressure on Chae over media reports that he had a son through an extramarital affair, the prosecutor-general stepped down on Sept. 13, only five months after taking office.
By Suk Gee-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)