The Korea Herald


Ruling party lawmaker loses seat after accountant found guilty over campaign finance

By Son Ji-hyoung

Published : May 18, 2023 - 15:01

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People Power Party Rep. Kim Sun-gyo People Power Party Rep. Kim Sun-gyo

A ruling from South Korea's top court on Thursday has stripped Rep. Kim Sun-gyo of the ruling People Power Party of his position as a lawmaker representing the city of Yeoju and Yangpyeong County, both in Gyeonggi Province.

The Supreme Court upheld the high court's decision, convicting the accountant for Kim's election campaign, surnamed Lee, of excessive campaign finance and expenses during the election campaign in 2020, under the Public Official Election Act. Lee was imposed with a fine of 10 million won ($7,500) for both offenses.

The court found Kim's accountant guilty of earmarking over 150 million won in funds and spending over 219 million won -- the yearly upper bars set by Korea's election authorities for Kim's case -- during the general election campaign that won Kim a seat at the National Assembly in April 2020.

Although Kim was acquitted of his accountant's crime, Korean law still finds the election result invalid if the accountant was slapped with a fine greater than 3 million won. Also under Korean rules, a lawmaker's conviction with a fine of at least 1 million won invalidates his or her position.

Kim was a first-term lawmaker and was previously a three-term chief of Yangpyeong County Office.

With Kim's resignation, the People Power Party will have 114 seats at the National Assembly out of 300 until the next general election scheduled for April 2024. The parliament is controlled by the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea, with 167 seats.

Election law violations either by lawmakers or their aides have so far resulted in the resignations of four representatives since the 2020 election.