Fourteen governors and mayors across the nation, including Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, have filed a petition with the Supreme Court, asking for the acquittal of Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung, who has been convicted of violating election laws.
In the petition, they asked the justices at the country’s top court to clear him of the charges so that Gyeonggi Province, with a population of 13 million, can avoid the absence of a governor and Lee can continue serving his role.
“If Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung loses his title as a governor, it will be the loss of a precious driving force for development of local autonomy as well as the country,” they said in the petition, asking for leniency and for him to be given a chance.
Overturning the lowest court’s decision, in September the Suwon High Court found Lee -- one of the liberal bloc’s presidential hopefuls -- guilty of making a false claim in the campaign ahead of the elections in June 2018, in violation of the national election law. It fined him 3 million won ($2,570).
If the high court’s ruling is confirmed by the Supreme Court, Lee, who became governor with 56.4 percent of votes, will lose his position as governor in accordance with the Public Official Election Act. Under the act, a public official found guilty of violating election laws and fined more than 1 million won could have their post invalidated.
Lee, formerly Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, mayor, denied that he abused his power to put his brother in a psychiatric institution against his will. This was seen as a false claim by the court.
Those who participated in the petition include Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, who is affiliated with the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, and Daegu Mayor Kwon Young-jin, who is affiliated with the main opposition Liberty Korea Party.
They said that Lee had changed residents’ lives through his passionate governorship, highlighting public support for him and his administrative skills in running signature polices, such as providing free school uniforms and basic universal income.
Lee’s supporters also plan to file a petition with signatures from 130,000 people Wednesday.