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[Newsmaker] Former Gwangju mayor arrives in Korea for probe over fake first lady scandal

Former Gwangju Mayor Yoon Jang-hyun, who allegedly had engaged in a fake ex-first lady scam, arrived in Korea early Sunday morning for a prosecution investigation. Prosecutors seized Yoon’s mobile phone at the airport and ordered him to appear for questioning Monday morning.

Yoon had been in Nepal for a medical volunteer program since Nov. 16. The program ended on Nov. 21, but Yoon had not returned to Korea and did not respond to the prosecution’s summons.

According to the Gwangju District Prosecutors’ Office, Yoon sent about 450 million won ($400,000) to a 49-year-old woman impersonating Kwon Yang-sook, the wife of former president Roh Moo-hyun, from December 2017 to January 2018. Yoon is also accused of using his power as mayor to request special consideration for job positions of the scammer’s children.

Former Gwangju Mayor Yoon Jang-hyun (Yonhap)
Former Gwangju Mayor Yoon Jang-hyun (Yonhap)

Yoon said the impersonator claimed to need 500 million won for her daughter’s business. After Yoon sent the money, the scammer also told Yoon that the children were those of Roh born out of wedlock, and indirectly asked Yoon to find them jobs.

The son and daughter were employed at the Kimdaejung Convention Center in Gwangju and a private school in the same city, respectively. The son quit the position in October this year, but the daughter still works at the school, according to local media reports.

Prosecutors first investigated Yoon as a victim of the scam. On Friday, however, he became a suspect of violating the Public Official Election Act, as speculation mounted that Yoon did the fake ex-first lady a favor ahead of the local elections. Yoon, then mayor of Gwangju, was reportedly seeking the Democratic Party of Korea’s nomination for a second term in his position.

“I’ll tell everything in detail to prosecutors and take responsibilities of the case if I need,” Yoon was quoted as saying by Newsis at the airport on Sunday.

Meanwhile, prosecutors arrested and charged the alleged scammer with fraud and violation of the Public Official Election Act on Friday.

By Park Ju-young (