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[Newsmaker] Ex-Ulsan mayor questioned over Cheong Wa Dae’s alleged election meddling

Former Ulsan Mayor Kim Gi-hyeon, who raised allegations about Cheong Wa Dae’s suspected meddling in regional elections last year, appeared before the prosecution Sunday to be questioned as a witness. 

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

Kim, who is affiliated with the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, says that the Ulsan Metropolitan Police Agency deliberately investigated suspicions surrounding his brother and close aide a few months ahead of the elections last year, to sway the vote in favor of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea’s candidate Song Cheol-ho, a close associate of President Moon Jae-in. Kim alleges that the probe had been ordered by the presidential office.

“I don’t know what I will be asked, but I will explain what I know in detail,” Kim said before entering the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, adding that the case threatens constitutional order.

Prosecutors also summoned Ulsan Vice Mayor Song Byung-gi for questioning and raided his residence, office and car on Friday.

Song allegedly tipped off a Cheong Wa Dae official about bribery allegations involving then-Ulsan Mayor Kim’s aides in October 2017. The official briefed Baek Won-woo, then-presidential secretary for civil affairs, on the tipoff. The tipoff led the Ulsan Metropolitan Police Agency to open a probe into Kim’s aides. Kim’s associates were cleared of all charges in July this year.

Kim says he had lost his bid for a second term due to the investigation.

On Thursday, Song admitted to having spoken with a Cheong Wa Dae official about the bribery allegations involving Kim’s close associates in late 2017. However, he said the tipoff had not been intentional.

Regarding the Ulsan vice mayor’s claims, Yoon Do-han, presidential secretary for public communication, earlier said that investigative authorities “will get to the bottom of the truth.”

(laeticia.ock@heraldcorp.com)
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