The unification ministry on Wednesday dismissed media reports questioning how minister nominee Lee In-young was able to finance his son's overseas education, saying that the reports are inaccurate and maliciously distorted.
Media reports claimed that Lee spent around $25,000 on tuition and living expenses for his son's stay in Switzerland to attend a design school for about a year from 2017. Some have raised questions over how the nominee was able to afford the costs.
Lee, a four-term lawmaker of the ruling Democratic Party, was nominated earlier this month for unification minister, and has been under close scrutiny ahead of a parliamentary confirmation hearing likely to take place within this month.
"The reports that the nominee's son spent $25,000 annually in attending the school in Switzerland are clearly not accurate," Yoh Sang-key, the ministry's spokesperson, told reporters during a regular press briefing.
"Simply by checking the homepage of the school in question, one can find that the annual tuition is not $25,000, but 5,000 Swiss francs ($5,316) per semester and 10,000 Swiss francs per year," he added. "We express regret over such maliciously distorted reports."
The spokesperson noted that relevant documents on the school's tuition guidance and remittance of money to Switzerland have been submitted to the National Assembly.
According to the remittance documents, Lee's son sent a total of 10,220 Swiss francs ($10,900) to the design school he attended.
Lee explained that he sent his son the full cost of tuition fees and that his son did not receive any scholarship, in a written reply sent to a member of the foreign affairs and unification committee for his confirmation hearing.
Rep. Kim Gi-hyeon of the main opposition United Future Party, who first raised the allegations, is currently demanding disclosure of documents that prove all expenses during the son's stay in Switzerland.
Lee's nomination must go through a parliamentary confirmation hearing, but the procedures are considered largely a formality as the National Assembly can only express its views on the nomination without the power to reject it. (Yonhap)