Leaders of political parties showed mixed reactions to President Moon Jae-in’s outrage over former President Lee Myung-bak’s denouncement of investigations into his aides as “political retaliation.”
Moon said through his spokesman Thursday that he “cannot hold back outrage” as Lee accused the incumbent administration of taking revenge over the death of former President Roh Moo-hyun.
Roh took his own life in 2009 amid a corruption probe into his family and aides during Lee’s presidency.
Former President Lee Myung-bak (Yonhap)
Hong Joon-pyo, chairman of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, criticized Moon for “saying something a president shouldn’t say.”
“That isn’t something he can say as the president of Korea. It’s something he could say as former President Roh’s chief of staff,” Hong said Thursday. Moon had served as Roh’s chief of staff.
“Political retaliation has now reached its peak. A presidential secretary is at the center of it, and everyone knows that the prosecution is playing the hunting dog under his command.”
Liberty Korea Party Floor Leader Kim Sung-tae said his party was deeply concerned.
“It becomes political revenge the moment a nation’s leader speaks of his outrage. … A president should never lose his cool under any circumstances,” Kim said Friday. “We understand his deep resentment, but outrage is an emotion that incites animosity.”
Choo Mi-ae, leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, called on Lee to cooperate with investigations, saying his claims of a political revenge were farfetched.
“It was a revelation by someone who worked for him faithfully for a long time, not political revenge from outside,” Choo said Friday, referring to Lee’s former private secretary Kim Hee-joong’s testimony against Lee.
People’s Party leader Ahn Cheol-soo said Friday that Lee’s press conference Wednesday was a political trick to mislead the public.
“He didn’t say a word about the facts regarding the suspicions raised against him, and only spoke about ‘annihilating conservatives’ and ‘political revenge,’” Ahn said.
“Instead of being outraged by this, the government should bring him to justice through an impartial investigation.”
Bareun Party leader Yoo Seong-min said Moon’s remarks about his anger was like giving the prosecution “a guideline on the probe.”
“If the Lee administration had serious problems, it is the role of the court and the prosecution to find out, not the president’s,” Yoo said in a radio interview Friday.
“If the president talks about his emotions, most people would think the incumbent president is ordering an investigation into a former president. … President Moon is the one in power now. Every word he says is important.”
By Kim So-hyun (email@example.com)