The Korea Herald

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Opposition leader’s court appearance sparks fierce protests

By Kim Arin

Published : March 31, 2023 - 16:37

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Democratic Party of Korea leader Rep. Lee Jae-myung (left) heads to court on Friday. (Yonhap) Democratic Party of Korea leader Rep. Lee Jae-myung (left) heads to court on Friday. (Yonhap)

The main opposition Democratic Party of Korea Chair Rep. Lee Jae-myung was met by competing crowds of protesters as he appeared for trial at the Seoul Central District Court on Friday. One protester was seen throwing eggs at the opposition leader.

Loud chants of “Arrest him!” from opponents followed Lee, while another crowd of well-wishers blasted songs from a carry-on speaker to muffle the boos.

Lee did not respond to questions from reporters at the scene, while waving and smiling briefly at his supporters.

Lee was indicted in September last year for violating the election law over the course of the 2022 presidential election campaign. He is charged with lying as a then-presidential candidate in press interviews and appearing as a witness at a National Assembly inspection session.

More specifically Lee, who served as Gyeonggi Province governor and Seongnam mayor, told reporters and lawmakers at the time that he was unaware that his former officials at the two municipalities provided favors to private investors while pursuing a public real estate project.

On changing land permits for the real estate project to select investors’ advantage, Lee also said his official had done so at the request of the Land Ministry, which the ministry denied.

Lee escaped a possible arrest in a narrow National Assembly vote last month, with 139 of fellow lawmakers voting in favor of a warrant for the Democratic Party leader versus 139 against. Issuing an arrest warrant for a sitting lawmaker requires approval from more than half or 149 members of the Assembly.