The People’s Party is in crisis over a scandal involving fabricated testimony about suspicions regarding President Moon Jae-in’s son, Moon Joon-yong.
Lee Yoo-mi, a member of the party, has been charged with spreading false information that Moon’s son was unfairly hired by the Korea Employment Information Service in 2006 when his father was a senior presidential secretary.
She trumped up voice recordings and mobile messages. According to the prosecution, Lee Joon-seo received the fabricated testimony from her and handed it over to the party, which disclosed it to the press during the presidential campaign.
It is shocking that information revealed by the People’s Party four days before Election Day turned out to be cooked up. The act is little different from dirty political manipulations used by dictators to seize power.
Spreading false information regarding political rivals is a serious crime that sets back democracy and muddles the constitutional order.
The party’s interim leader Rep. Park Joo-sun apologized, but his apology alone is not enough for it to pick up the pieces and move on.
The party has called for a special counsel to investigate the fake evidence and the suspected unfair hiring. This proposal sounds like a cheap trick to pull itself out of trouble.
The party claims Lee Yoo-mi acted alone, but she reportedly raised the possibility of the leadership being involved, though she did not elaborate.
Interim leader Park said in a radio program, “If our party had been involved, there would be no reason for its existence. I will be the first to call for its dissolution.”
If the party is found to be involved in the fabrication, Park may not even have to bother demanding the breakup of the party, as the backlash will overwhelm it.
Park Jie-won, then-party leader who headed Ahn Cheol-soo’s presidential campaign, said he had been in the dark about the false testimony before it was disclosed to the press.
However, it is doubtful if the party’s internal report system was as shabby as he claims.
Even if Lee Yoo-mi is found to have faked the evidence by herself, it would be hard for the party to escape criticism.
Poor vetting is as grave as a fabricated tipoff. The prosecution is said to be investigating the party’s verification process for the testimony.
The investigation should focus on whether the party was systematically involved.
Another issue is whether Ahn knew the testimony had been faked.
Lee Yoo-mi was his student, and Lee Joon-seo was the first to be scouted by the party at his recommendation.
The possibility of Ahn being implicated cannot be excluded yet.
The scandal is connected to his campaign, but Ahn has remained silent. His attitude is incomprehensible, though he is reportedly waiting for investigation results.
When it comes to campaign issues, he should take more responsibility than others in the party.
Separate from the investigation, it would be right for him to say what he knew about the scandal.
Even if he does so, whether the party can regain confidence in its morality is questionable.
Without poignant self-reflection and a complete overhaul, it would be hard for the People’s Party to survive.
Not everything about the case has been revealed yet. But the facts known so far are enough to threaten the raison d’etre of the party.
Of course, this scandal does not necessarily mean that suspicions about the employment of Moon Joon-yong have been cleared. The prosecution has to investigate that as well.
Politicians should consider this incident a chance to end the election politics of unfounded suspicions and lies. Putting an end to suspicions is the place for new politics to start.