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Prosecutor-general nominee under fire for alleged false testimony

The ruling and main opposition parties on Tuesday continued to clash over Prosecutor-General nominee Yoon Seok-youl, with the opposition honing in on his alleged false testimony in his confirmation hearing.

The ruling Democratic Party continued to defend Yoon, saying he is fit to lead the prosecution and to continue a reform drive. It added that the confirmation hearing on Monday did not reveal any crippling allegations or evidence against the nominee. 

Prosecutor-general nominee Yoon Seok-youl at the parliamentary confirmation hearing on Monday. Yonhap
Prosecutor-general nominee Yoon Seok-youl at the parliamentary confirmation hearing on Monday. Yonhap

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party, for its part, stepped up its attack, saying the confirmation hearing had been filled with Yoon’s lies.

“Nominee Yoon’s confirmation hearing was a party of lies that made a mockery of the people,” Liberty Korea Party Floor Leader Rep. Na Kyung-won said, calling on Yoon to forfeit his nomination.

During Monday’s hearing, Yoon denied claims that he had any involvement in the 2013 bribery case involving Yoon Woo-jin, ex-chief of the NTS Yongsan District Office. Yoon Woo-jin -- not related to the prosecutor-general nominee -- is the brother of Deputy Minister for Criminal Affairs Yoon Dae-jin.

Yoon Seok-youl and Yoon Dae-jin are believed to have a very close relationship. They were reportedly referred to as “Big Yoon” and “Little Yoon” within the prosecution.

Yoon Woo-jin was investigated by police over allegations that he received 20 million won ($17,020) in cash, 100 sets of ribs and 40 million won worth of golf rounds from a local businessman. He was acquitted in 2015.

Despite Yoon Seok-youl’s denial, a Liberty Korea Party lawmaker later disclosed a recording in which Yoon Seok-youl said he would tell Lee Nam-seok to meet Yoon Woo-jin.

In the recording, made in 2012 by a journalist, Yoon Seok-youl is heard saying, “I told Lee Nam-seok to meet Yoon Woo-jin, without telling Dae-jin.”

Following the disclosure of the recording, Yoon Seok-youl apologized, but said that as Lee was not appointed as Yoon Woo-jin’s attorney, no violation of related laws had occurred.

The Act on Attorney-at-Law prohibits public servants in positions linked to court trial or investigation from introducing a lawyer to those subject to trial or investigation.

Meanwhile, those linked to the allegations backed Yoon Seok-youl’s claims.

Lee told reporters that he had meet Yoon Woo-jin in 2012, but that he was acting on Yoon Dae-jin’s suggestion rather than Yoon Seok-youl’s.

Lee also said he did not provide legal services and that he only listened to his side of the story as the former tax official was “in a very serious state.”

Yoon Dae-jin has said that he introduced Lee to his brother and that Yoon Seok-youl was likely to have been attempting to shield him by telling the journalist that he was the connection between Lee and Yoon Woo-jin.

By Choi He-suk (