AsiaToday reporter Kim Im-soo
The prosecution will summon Lee Jae-myung of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) next week, who is accused of making false statements in relation to Baekhyun-dong land development preferential treatment allegations.
According to the legal community, the second public investigation division at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, has notified Lee, who has been accused of violating the Public Official Election Act, to appear for questioning on Sept. 6.
Lee is accused of disclosing false remarks in connection with the suspicion of preferential treatment for the change of use of the site of the Korea Food Research Institute in Baekhyun-dong at the Gyeonggi State Audit of the National Assembly’s Land, Infrastructure and Transport Committee on Oct. 20, last year, when he was elected as the DP’s presidential candidate and served as Gyeonggi governor.
During the parliamentary inspection, lawmakers of the People Power Party (PPP), the then opposition party, raised suspicions that the municipal government of Seongnam gave special treatment to a private developer, which developed Seongnam’s Baekhyun-dong district into apartment complexes, between 2015 and 2016, when Lee was the city’s mayor. The private developer reportedly earned huge profits after the city cancelled an original plan to provide public rental homes and allowed the developer to sell homes to consumers.
Lee alleged that the special favor in the Baekhyun-dong project was given at the request of the land ministry. “The Seongnam city government said it would secure a certain amount of revenue and attract business facilities since it is unacceptable to change the use of the site and allow a developer acquire windfall profits, but the land ministry threatened me to charge with dereliction of duty,” Lee said.
But the PPP claimed that it was confirmed through an official document that the Seongnam city government suddenly changed its position over the change of use of the site, contrary to Lee’s claim. They filed a complaint against Lee with the prosecution over his remarks involving the land ministry’s threats.
The union of the land ministry issued a statement, saying, “We express our deep regrets for Lee’s remarks that the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport forced him to change use of the site.” The ministry demanded Lee’s apology, saying, “Do not make the land ministry’s legitimate work the subject of political disputes ahead of the presidential election.”