The Korea Herald

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Anti-corruption watchdog accused by ex-head of bias toward Yoon

By Kim Arin

Published : June 11, 2024 - 15:51

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President Yoon Suk Yeol (right) and First Lady Kim Keon Hee leave for France on June 19, 2023. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald) President Yoon Suk Yeol (right) and First Lady Kim Keon Hee leave for France on June 19, 2023. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

South Korea’s anti-corruption watchdog was slammed by the Democratic Party of Korea on Tuesday over its decision to strike down a petition against First Lady Kim Keon Hee.

The petition, filed with the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission in December last year, claimed that Kim had accepted bribes.

The commission said in a previously unannounced briefing Monday that it was closing the case against the first lady as the existing laws have no provisions for holding spouses of elected public officials accountable.

Democratic Party Rep. Jeon Hyeon-heui -- who headed the anti-corruption watchdog under former President Moon Jae-in -- said Tuesday that the decision to drop the case against the first lady “violated the Commission’s commitment to political neutrality.”

“The decision made by the Commission the previous day was a disastrous one that ignored its duties to remain impartial and gave the most powerful in our society a free pass,” she said.

Jeon claimed that she was aware of an internal discussion that took place within the Commission that tried to muffle views that questioned the alleged downplay of the petition raised against the presidential couple.

She said that she would be consulting with the Democratic Party leaders to push for an Assembly-led investigation to see why the watchdog “failed to scrutinize a serious instance of a possible corruption case involving the first lady.”