September 01, 2023 12:14
Tainted Minjoo Party leader Lee Jae-myung began a hunger strike on Thursday, ostensibly in protest against an "inept and violent administration."
But the ruling People Power Party accused Lee of trying to divert attention from the corruption charges that are closing in on him.
At a press conference marking his first anniversary as the party's chief, Lee said, "We were unable to prevent a regressive regime from taking power and failed to stop the ineptitude and recklessness of this regime. I must take responsibility for that."
"Determined to die if necessary, I will stop the destruction of democracy," he added.
Lee's smorgasbord of demands includes an apology from President Yoon Suk-yeol for "destroying the people's livelihood and damaging democracy" and a sweeping Cabinet reshuffle. He also wants the government to take the question of Japan's discharge of wastewater from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant to the International Tribune for the Law of the Sea.
The stunt comes amid an ongoing investigation of corruption in massive real estate development deals when Lee was mayor of Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, which he has denounced as "stalking by prosecutors."
Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon responded, "I'm not sure if the public will sympathize with Lee, who is countering an investigation of his alleged corruption by going on a hunger strike that is completely out of context."
"Will his hunger strike end the investigation of theft or fraud? The investigation is simply a corruption case involving an individual," Han said.
PPP leader Kim Gi-hyeon said, "It's frustrating to see Lee continue to wreak havoc in parliament and prevent it from focusing on working for the people."
Lee set up a tent in front of the National Assembly where he will fast in full view of the public.
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