The summoning of former President Lee Myung-bak by the prosecution on Wednesday drew mixed responses from the political arena, with liberals and conservatives taking contrasting positions.
Lee, who faces alegations of corruption, appeared at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office early in the morning for questioning.
The ruling Democratic Party of Korea called for a thorough investigation of Lee, who became the country’s fifth former president to be grilled by prosecutors. Lee is the predecessor of impeached President Park Geun-hye, currently on trial over a host of charges including bribery.
Rep. Choo Mi-ae of the ruling party called for “a thorough investigation in accordance with law and principles,” saying that the long list of allegations against him would be a world record.
The ruling party’s floor leader Rep. Woo Won-shik chimed in, citing the large sums linked to Lee’s alleged wrongdoings.
“So far, 11.1 billion won ($10.4 million) has been identified as being linked to Lee’s bribery allegations, and 30 billion won with slush funds,” Woo said.
“Lee’s former aides are currently undergoing questioning as well. People are just aghast at the series of corruption charges involving the former leader that were revealed over dozens of days.”
Rep. Sim Sang-jung, former head of the liberal Justice Party, also called on the former president to “tell the truth to the people” and “make an apology in front of the people” via social media.
The allegations facing Lee include receiving illicit funds from the National Intelligence Service, and running illegal slush funds through the auto parts company DAS. On paper, DAS is operated and controlled by an elder brother of Lee, but it has been alleged that the former president is the actual owner.
The main opposition Liberty Korea Party, for its part, accused the Moon Jae-in administration of taking revenge against the former conservative leader.
Hong Joon-pyo, head of the Liberty Korea Party, accused President Moon Jae-in’s government of “strategically leveraging Lee’s investigation for political gains ahead of the June 13 local election.”
Hong said Wednesday’s questioning of Lee was “out of pure determination for revenge” via his Facebook account on the same day.
By Bak Se-hwan (firstname.lastname@example.org