Ruling Democratic Party (DP) presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung and his main opposition rival Yoon Suk-yeol of the People’s Power Party (PPP) clashed with corruption allegations in a duel during the debate televised presidential election on Monday, the slander overshadowing their disagreement on economic issues.
The two-hour debate aired on MBC, which also involved Ahn Cheol-soo of the Minor Opposition People’s Party and Sim Sang-jung of the Minor Progressive Justice Party, began with the candidates detailing their plans to overcome the resulting economic hardship. of the ongoing Covid -19 pandemic.
The DP candidate promised he would fully compensate small businesses for losses suffered due to anti-disease regulations by providing emergency relief payments through supplementary budgets or emergency executive orders, while Yoon pledged state support but also warned against excessive government spending.
The pair argued over the DP’s recent passage of a 16.9 trillion won ($14.19 billion) supplementary budget bill through a parliamentary budget committee without PPP support on Saturday, which Lee said was necessary to overcome the opposition party’s boycott.
“When there’s a fire, you need to put it out quickly, rather than complaining about the size of the bucket,” Lee said.
Yoon criticized the ruling party for offering what his party sees as insufficient support for small traders and business owners affected by the prolonged restrictions.
“We told the DP to persuade the government and send an additional budget of 50 trillion won, because it’s the ruling party, but the government just offered 14 trillion won,” he said. he stated, referring to the budget amount originally proposed by the party. government.
However, the candidates’ debate over their plans to deal with the economic hardship caused by the pandemic was overshadowed as they traded accusations of corruption and financial misappropriation by their family members and associates.
Lee accused Yoon’s wife, Kim Keon-hee, of participating in stock manipulation in 2010 by Deutsch Motors, a BMW car dealership in Korea, and pressed the PPP candidate about the origin of her holdings. personal, worth about 7 billion won, considering his monthly income. revenue of 2 million won.
Yoon countered that his wife had traded stocks at the time of the Deutsch Motors stock manipulation, but was not involved in the scheme, and that she had seen both profits and losses on her trades. stock markets over the years. He added that his wife had already amassed “significant personal wealth” before 2010.
The DP candidate also accused Yoon of being guilty of unspecified crimes and at one point even pulled out a board with a written transcript of a recorded conversation between Kim Man-bae, the owner of a small management company of assets in the center of Daejang. -dong corruption scandal in development and another unnamed individual speaking about Yoon’s alleged past wrongdoings.
“With the cards I hold, Yoon would die,” Kim said in part of the phone transcript held by Lee during the debate.
Kim, a former journalist who interviewed Lee in 2014 when the latter was still mayor of Seongnam, Gyeonggi, was charged with breach of trust and bribery in connection with the development of Daejang-dong.
His relationship with Lee gave rise to unproven suspicions that the DP candidate was behind the inclusion of Hwacheon Daeyu and its affiliates in the residential development.
Hwacheon Daeyu’s outsized profits from the project sparked a months-long investigation by prosecutors into those suspected of rigging the project’s shareholder composition and profit distribution system to favor the previously little-known company, its subsidiaries. and their owners.
However, Yoon was quick to return the fire to Lee, alleging that the taped conversation also mentioned a “Lee-gate” scandal that the DP candidate had omitted from the transcript he showed viewers of the debate.
“I believe the recording also includes something about a ‘Lee-gate’ scandal,” Yoon shot back. “Why don’t you show that part of the conversation too?”
Yoon’s rejoinder alluded to allegations of bribery by former Lee assistant and acting chairman of the Seongnam Development Corporation, Yoo Dong-kyu, during the screening of development investment bids in Seongnam, which took off. during the DP candidate’s tenure as mayor of the city. .
Yoo was also charged with breach of trust and bribery in the case.
BY MICHAEL LEE [[email protected]]