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Opposition leader questioned over illegal money transfers to N. Korea

By Yonhap

Published : Sept. 9, 2023 - 10:50

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The main opposition Democratic Party leader Lee Jae-myung arrives at the Suwon District Prosecutor's Office in Gyeonggi Province to appear before prosecutors for questioning over his alleged involvement in illegal money transfers to North Korea. (Yonhap) The main opposition Democratic Party leader Lee Jae-myung arrives at the Suwon District Prosecutor's Office in Gyeonggi Province to appear before prosecutors for questioning over his alleged involvement in illegal money transfers to North Korea. (Yonhap)

Opposition leader Lee Jae-myung appeared before prosecutors Saturday for questioning over allegations that he was involved in a company's alleged illegal money transfers to North Korea.

Lee, chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party, showed up at the Suwon District Prosecutors Office in Suwon, 30 kilometers south of Seoul, at 10:18 a.m., marking his fifth appearance for prosecution questioning. He was last questioned on Aug. 17 over a separate case.

Lee has been under investigation over a series of corruption allegations that he claims were fabricated.

The latest probe centers on allegations that Ssangbangwool Group, an underwear manufacturer, unlawfully remitted $8 million to North Korea between January 2019 and January 2020 on behalf of Gyeonggi Province.

Prosecutors suspect that $3 million was intended to facilitate Lee's planned visit to Pyongyang, while the remainder was meant for Gyeonggi's smart farm support program in North Korea.

Upon arriving at the prosecutor's office, Lee told reporters that the truth cannot stay covered up forever, although the government may be able to fabricate the case using what he calls the "political prosecution."

He urged President Yoon Suk Yeol to apologize to the people for his acts of "destroying democracy" and "denying the sovereignty" of the people. He also called on the Cabinet members to resign en masse for a complete change of government affairs.

He then headed directly to the prosecution office without answering reporters' questions.

But Lee uploaded a written statement on social media shortly after his appearance for questioning, flatly denying the charges against him.

"I tried to do business with the North for humanitarian support and exchanges when I was Gyeonggi governor but did not provide, or ask to provide, money and goods to the North in violation of South Korean laws and the United Nations' sanctions," Lee said.

The questioning comes amid his indefinite hunger sit-in against the Yoon administration. He launched the strike on Aug. 31, calling on the president to apologize to the people for "destroying" their livelihoods and democracy, express opposition to Japan's release of radioactive water into the ocean and thoroughly shake up the Cabinet to improve state affairs.

The prosecution has medical staff and an ambulance on standby at its Suwon office in case the politician's health worsens due to his hunger strike.

The DP chairman was already indicted in two corruption cases in March.

He currently faces charges of breach of duty, bribery and other counts related to an apartment development project in the city of Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province. (Yonhap)