The allegations raised by Kim Eui-kyeom, a National Assembly member of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea, that President Yoon Suk-yeol drank with Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon in a bar in Cheongdam-dong, southern Seoul proved false.
A female cellist said to be the source of the allegations confessed to the police on Thursday that she lied to deceive her boyfriend.
Kim revealed in the National Assembly on Oct. 24 that Yoon and Han drank with about 30 lawyers of Kim & Chang in a Cheongdam-dong bar from the night of July 19 until the dawn of the following day. He even played record files of a phone conversation between the cellist and her boyfriend that he claimed he got from a YouTube channel loyal to the party.
Han strongly denied the allegations and the presidential office said Yoon was not there at the time. But the party leadership still incited the suspicions.
It called for the presidential office to disclose details on Yoon's whereabouts after work.
Its chief policymaker, Kim Sung-whan, called the allegations "the second most shocking scandal (after one that led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye), if they are true."
The party also mentioned the creation of a task force to find truth and the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the allegations.
Admittedly partisan fights in Korea are so desperate, and yet the Democratic Party carried the allegations to absurd lengths.
It was apparent to everyone that the allegations sounded strange from the beginning.
People tilted their heads at a strange situation in which the incumbent President and Justice Minister drank and sang with about 30 lawyers late at night in a bar in downtown Seoul. Their get-together at a bar could not but attract attention, at least because presidential guards and their vehicles are supposed to follow the president even to an unofficial event. Han does not drink liquor. As expected, there was no such gathering in the first place.
It was senseless of Kim to raise suspicions in the National Assembly, depending solely on low-grade lies. Anyone could find the tip-off false if he or she had fact-checked a few things. Kim made no such effort and disclosed the allegations irresponsibly during a parliamentary inspection of the Justice Ministry. People cannot but suspect he had every intention of disgracing the President and Justice Minister.
The majority opposition party did not try to verify the absurd allegations, either.
After the allegations proved false, Kim sent reporters a text message expressing "his deep regret to President Yoon Suk-yeol and other related persons." But he added that it is a lawmaker's duty to receive tip-offs and raise suspicions during a parliamentary inspection of the government and that if he went back to that time, he could not but ask the same questions again. This is justification of his act, disguised as apology, and a declaration that he would keep making groundless revelations. He is unashamed.
When the Democratic Party was the ruling party, Kim pushed a bill introducing punitive compensation for damage due to fake news. Then under the current administration, he habitually makes false claims. The other day the party spokesperson said that a foreign ambassador said what she had not said. He also lied about Han's handshake with a Democratic Party lawmaker, which took place in a Justice Ministry ceremony.
Kim lost morality and trust expected not only from a spokesperson but from a lawmaker. He must be held responsible for deceiving the whole nation.
So must the party leadership for advocating him. It must punish him and apologize.
Above all, the party must get rid of its crooked political behavior of inciting tenuous allegations. It diffused ill-founded claims about the Sewol ferry sinking, nuclear energy, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense weapon system, and the Itaewon tragedy. If the party with an overwhelming majority in the Assembly keeps ignoring facts and reason, state affairs may be imperiled.