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Democratic Party head Lee’s alleged contact with North Korea ‘clear violation’: justice minister

By Kim Arin

Published : Feb. 6, 2023 - 19:48

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Democratic Party of Korea chair Rep. Lee Jae-myung speaks during a meeting on Feb. 2. (The Korea Herald) Democratic Party of Korea chair Rep. Lee Jae-myung speaks during a meeting on Feb. 2. (The Korea Herald)

Minister of Justice Han Dong-hoon said Monday Democratic Party of Korea chair Rep. Lee Jae-myung’s alleged interaction with North Korea in 2019 would be “a clear violation of the law.”

“These are still allegations under investigation. But unauthorized contact with North Korea is a clear violation of the law,” said the justice minister in response to a lawmaker's question at the plenary session held on the day.

Lee faces allegations that he got in touch with North Korean officials while serving as the governor of Gyeonggi Province to request an invitation to North Korea.

In a related case, underwear maker Ssangbangwool’s former head Kim Seong-tae, who is alleged to be close to Lee, told prosecutors that he had sent a total of some $8 million to North Korea in 2019 on behalf of the then Gyeonggi governor.

Monday’s plenary session was being held as the Democratic Party is pushing for another bill to curtail the investigative authorities of prosecutors amid an ongoing criminal investigation against its leader.

At Saturday’s rally held near Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul, Lee claimed that the investigations facing him were “dictatorial oppression” by the Yoon Suk Yeol administration.