|Conservative civic group members hold a press conference in central Seoul to denounced Yoon Mi-hyang, a lawmaker-elect of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea. Wednesday. Yonhap|
By Do Je-hae
The ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) is taking seriously the alleged misuse of funds intended for former sex slaves by one of its lawmakers-elect. Although for now it says fact-finding should come first, some party members are urging the DPK to investigate her immediately and take necessary actions if the allegations are proven true, as public sentiment against the ruling party grows.
Yoon Mi-hyang, former leader of the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issue of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, has emerged at the center of a controversy for allegedly misusing the civic group's funds for personal gain, and not properly supporting the elderly victims of wartime sex slavery. Yoon won a National Assembly seat as a proportional representative of the DPK's satellite party, Civil Together, in the general election last month.
The DPK initially brushed off the allegations, but has started to take it seriously as more and more corruption allegations have emerged and the main opposition United Future Party (UFP) said it could push for a National Assembly inquiry into the mounting accusations.
The party's official stance is to make a decision later after a fact-finding mission.
"Regarding the allegations surrounding the council, we believe the priority should be placed on clarifying the facts first," DPK chief spokesperson Kang Hoon-sik said after the party's decision-making Supreme Council meeting, Wednesday. "We will come to a conclusion after the results of an audit by the Ministry of the Interior and Safety and other agencies (the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and the National Tax Service) come out."
The DPK has faced calls for disciplinary action against Yoon, but remains cautious.
"The council has been around for a long time and its activities should not be undermined," DPK Chairman Rep. Lee Hae-chan said, Monday.
But the party is facing increasing pressure to do something about Yoon, particularly if the audits and the prosecution's investigation find some grave problems. Even some DPK lawmakers are calling for proper disciplinary action.
"The party should not just wait for the results of the prosecution's investigation but take action to clarify the truth as soon as possible, so it can take corresponding measures," Rep. Kim Hae-young said, urging Yoon to disclose transaction records about donations which she allegedly received through her personal bank accounts.
"The people are questioning the sense of justice of the council," Rep. Noh Woong-rae said during a radio interview. "Equality and justice have been core values of the Moon Jae-in administration. What is wrong should be corrected."
Rep. Kim Jong-min also said in another radio interview, "Although she is our party member, we will not protect Yoon if problems are found. If there was misappropriation for personal gain, this is not something the party can or would protect against."