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Presidential candidates’ wives under fire

Spouses of ruling and opposition parties’ key candidates face allegations, rumors and mockery

Kim Hye-gyeong (left), wife of Democratic presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung, and Kim Kun-hee, wife of the main opposition People Power Party’s candidate Yoon Seok-youl (Yonhap)
Kim Hye-gyeong (left), wife of Democratic presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung, and Kim Kun-hee, wife of the main opposition People Power Party’s candidate Yoon Seok-youl (Yonhap)

The spouses of key presidential candidates have been making headlines for days and are finding themselves at the center of allegations, rumors and even mockery.

Kim Kun-hee, wife of the main opposition People Power Party’s candidate, Yoon Seok-youl, has been mired in allegations of stock price manipulation related to the used car dealership Deutsch Motors.

The prosecution arrested Deutsch Motors CEO Kwon Oh-soo on Tuesday. Kwon is suspected of playing a leading role in manipulating the firm’s stock prices to the tune of 63 billion won ($53 million) for about three years starting at the end of 2009. During the probe, a broker surnamed Lee was found to have met Kim through Kwon and managed a stock account of Kim’s worth 1 billion won. The prosecution is investigating whether Kim was involved in the alleged manipulation and will likely summon her soon.

Democratic Party leader Song Young-gil urged Kim on Wednesday to “express her position directly.”

“Kim should explain all the questions raised against her in person and come forward to the public,” he said. “I hope the investigative agency will also conduct a direct investigation into Kim immediately.”

Yoon Ho-jung, the party floor leader, said, “If Kim Kun-hee’s suspicion of actively participating in stock price manipulation turns out to be true, it will be revealed that the wife of the opposition presidential candidate is a vicious anteater that eats good ants.”

Kim Hye-gyeong, wife of Democratic presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung, has also been embroiled in controversy since she fell at home and was taken to a hospital in an ambulance last week.

As rumors spread that Lee Jae-myung had assaulted Kim Hye-gyeong, the party put considerable effort into correcting them. Lee disclosed CCTV footage and audio from phone calls inside the ambulance and filed a complaint with the prosecution against some netizens on charges of spreading false information.

Rumors also spread that Kim Hye-gyeong underwent plastic surgery after Lee Jae-myung beat her and broke a bone near her eye. They were rumored to have fought because Lee had an affair with his former secretary Kim Hyun-ji. Kim Hyun-ji later sued about 40 netizens for spreading false information, including the rumors about an affair with Lee.

The two potential first ladies again made headlines Wednesday after Rep. Han Joon-ho of the Democratic Party wrote a message on Facebook suggesting that Kim Hye-gyeong would be more suitable because she has human children.

Han, executive director of candidate Lee’s campaign, wrote, “Kim Hye-gyeong, the mother of two children, vs. Kim Kun-hee, the mother of Tori. The first lady also represents the national dignity.”

Tori is the name of candidate Yoon’s dog, and Kim Kun-hee has reportedly had at least one miscarriage. Han later deleted the post after controversy arose.

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)
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