June 24, 2021 13:00
The ruling Minjoo Party has nominally expelled lawmakers Yoon Mee-hyang and Yang Yi Won-young on suspicion of illicit real estate transactions.
But they will keep their National Assembly seats, which they won through proportional representation, so their expulsion is really just a slap on the wrist and they are expected to redeem themselves by faithfully voting with the party. Yoon is by all accounts an out-and-out criminal of the worst sort who abused the trust of, and stole from, elderly victims of sex slavery at the hands of the Imperial Japanese Army when she headed the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance. She also brought shame on her country when her dishonesty was revealed and set back the cause of the victims by decades. When Lee Yong-soo, a former sex slave who is in her 90s, revealed how Yoon abused her and the other victims, the government and ruling party's initial knee-jerk reaction was to accuse Lee of being senile, no matter that they too had scrawled the cause of the victims on their own banners.
Prosecutors dragged their heels for four months investigating Yoon before they finally indicted her on eight charges, including embezzlement, dereliction of duty and fraud. The charges were impossible to cover up any more. Yoon is also accused of illegally obtaining W300 million in state grants over seven years by using an ex-employee's name, but the most grievous offense is that she embezzled W100 million from a fund set up to help the former sex slaves and withdrew money from it no fewer than 217 times for her own use (US$1=W1,137). Late last year, the judge who was to have presided over the case suddenly died, which means she has still not stood trial for bringing her entire country into disrepute. The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, which is tasked with recovering the money Yoon stole, has suddenly changed tack and said it wants to wait until her trial is over. It looks very much like the government is trying to protect her.
Yoon lost her right to represent anyone the moment her crimes were revealed. A vast majority of Koreans at the time felt she should resign immediately. Her dodgy real estate dealings come as no surprise but are really the least of her offenses. That the ruling party and government are still protecting her and keeping her in a paid job as a Korean legislator is an absolute disgrace.
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