South Korean president apologises over scandal involving gift to wife


May 9, 2024

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has apologised for his wife’s decision to accept a luxury handbag as a gift, revelations of which have caused a scandal.

Yoon’s wife, Kim Keon Hee, was secretly filmed by a hidden camera accepting the expensive handbag from a third party.
The ensuing controversy has also politically ensnared the conservative president himself.
Yoon said on Thursday that his wife had behaved unwisely at the time and that her behaviour had caused unrest for which he apologised.
His remarks came at Yoon’s first press conference since August 2022, and several weeks after his party was soundly defeated in April’s general election.
The scandal surrounding the first lady was also seen as one of the factors that helped determine the outcome of the election.
Yoon, who previously served as South Korea’s attorney general, rejected the political opposition’s call for additional special investigations into the handbag scandal.
There are already investigations into the incident, he said, and dismissed calls for a special prosecutor as a “political manoeuvre.”
The YouTube channel Voice of Seoul published a video in November that allegedly shows Kim accepting a designer handbag worth around three million (2. 2 thousands U.S. dollars) from the hands of a pastor in Seoul.
The pastor is said to have worked with the YouTube channel and was wearing a hidden camera on his watch during the meeting with Kim.
The channel had reported Kim on allegations that she had violated the anti-corruption law, although it remains unclear whether she actually violated the law, which would require a direct connection between her behaviour and her husband’s political office.
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