Police and election authorities are investigating allegations about an illegal campaign for Ohm Ki-young, the ruling party candidate for Gangwon governor.
The provincial election authorities said Friday that they received a report about 29 people making telephone calls in a pension in Gangneung to entreat voters to cast ballots for Ohm.
According to various opinion polls, Ohm is currently leading the race for the April 27 gubernatorial by-election. His rival candidate is Choi Moon-soon of the opposition Democratic Party. The two are former MBC presidents.
The pension is not registered as a campaign office, so it is against the related law to campaign there, according to election officials.
Upon the report, the authorities and police raided the pension, and found lots of campaign papers related to the candidate. All 29 people were taken to the police station for investigation.
Police take people out of a pension in Gangneung on Friday where they allegedly campaigned illegally for Ohm Ki-young, the Gangwon gubernatorial candidate of the ruling GNP. (Yonhap News)
“There were copies of the roster of 1 million people who signed on the petition for a successful Winter Olympic bid. Two officials of the Grand National Party were there, too,” a former Democratic Party lawmaker, who went to the scene along with election officials, said.
“They seem to have been given free meals, 50,000 won in daily allowance and mobile phones.”
An election official said it violates the law to install phones outside registered campaign offices and to mobilize unregistered people to campaign.
“Illegal, murky campaign in the mountainous province boasting a clean environment is deplorable,” Democratic Party floor leader Park Ji-won said in a news conference, “Our party got a tip-off five days ago about a shady campaign by phone calls. We staked out near the pension to expose the illicit campaign.”
The party, however, declined to disclose the informant.
Ohm’s campaign apologized, but claimed it had no connection with the allegedly illegal campaign activists. “It is volunteers who made the phone calls, which had nothing to do with our campaign,” it said. “Their activities are totally voluntary and bear no relation to us.”
Choi’s campaign called on Ohm to withdraw his candidacy. “It is obviously an illegal campaign to buy meals and give money. Ohm should not ridicule Gangwon residents any more. He should beg forgiveness and withdraw his candidacy.”
By Chun Sung-woo (firstname.lastname@example.org