Anti-corruption agency’s decision on first lady’s luxury bag scandal faces backlash

First lady Kim Keon Hee, second from left, arrives at Seoul Airport in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, to depart for Turkmenistan, Monday. Yonhap

The Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission is facing a major backlash from opposition parties following its decision to close its review regarding first lady Kim Keon Hee’s luxury handbag scandal, citing the lack of a punishment clause for public officials’ spouses under the anti-graft act.

Kim was accused of improperly receiving a Christian Dior luxury handbag worth 3 million won ($2,178) from a Korean American pastor named Choi Jae-young, who conspired with YouTube-based media outlet Voice of Seoul to secretly film his meeting with Kim in 2022.

The decision comes nearly six months after a civic group called People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy filed a corruption complaint with the commission 토토 against President Yoon Suk Yeol and the first lady as well as the pastor on charges of violating the Improper Solicitation and Graft Act in December.

The main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) lashed out at the commission’s decision to clear Kim of graft charges, vowing to push ahead with a special probe into the luxury bag scandal and other suspicions involving the first lady.

“Was the commission’s decision to close the case a farewell gift for the first lady, who embarked on her weeklong trip to Central Asia alongside the president?” Rep. Yoon Jong-kun of the DPK asked in a statement, pointing out that the outcome was made public hours after the presidential couple left for Turkmenistan.

“The DPK will swiftly push for a special counsel probe into cases involving Kim to prevent her from running away.”

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