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[Newsmaker] Police whistle-blower takes center stage

Former police officer Kwon Eun-hee has returned to the spotlight with her nomination as a New Politics Alliance for Democracy candidate fueling heated debate within and outside the progressive bloc.

Kwon was nominated for Gwangju’s Gwangsan-B constituency on Wednesday, about a month after she left the police force.

Kwon shot to fame last year when she claimed that former Seoul police chief Kim Yong-pan suppressed the investigation into National Intelligence Service’s alleged attempt to influence the 2012 presidential election against the opposition candidate. Two courts have since found Kim not guilty of the charges. 
Kwon Eun-hee
Kwon Eun-hee

She had initially led the investigation at the Suseo Police Station, but was transferred to another station in Seoul allegedly for being uncooperative with her commanders’ orders to conduct a lax investigation.

While Kwon cited “responsibility to society” as her reason for accepting the nomination, her selection has left the NPAD divided.

“It is a nomination that (creates) antipathy toward a righteous testimony,” former NPAD floor leader Rep. Jun Byung-hun wrote on his Twitter account on Wednesday.

Others, however, have welcomed the development.

On Wednesday, Former Justice Minister Chun Jeong-bae immediately accepted Kwon’s nomination, saying that he hoped Kwon would “bring vitality to the lethargic party,” and ended his own campaign.

Until Wednesday, Chun had criticized the NPAD leadership for excluding him from the nomination process.

“Kwon’s nomination will be an opportunity to take a step closer to the truth about the extraordinary development that was the NIS’ interference in the presidential election,” NPAD senior adviser Chung Dong-young said in a radio interview.

Adding that a special counsel investigation into the case was a promise made by the NPAD, he said that as a lawmaker, Kwon could serve as a catalyst.

However, Chung also said Kwon’s nomination could have political implications.

“It is regretful that the pretext for subjecting Kwon’s efforts to fight against the injustices of the state to political attacks from the ruling party has been provided,” he said

The ruling Saenuri Party immediately attacked the NPAD, calling the developments “bribery after the fact” and claiming that she was given the nomination in return for her actions.

“Kwon is not someone who exposed interference, but a person who told lies,” Saenuri Party secretary general Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun said Thursday. 

Saying that Kwon denounced the entire police force as corrupt, Yoon argued that the NPAD’s decision to help her become a representative of the people was incomprehensible. He added that Kwon’s nomination was an action that “trampled on the public opinion across Korea.”

“The fact that (NPAD) chairman Ahn Cheol-soo, who has been calling for new politics, is behind it all bodes ill for Korea’s new politics.”

By Choi He-suk (
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Korea Herald daum