DP leader calls for Yoon’s apology over aides’ gaffe

SEOUL– Opposition leader Lee Jae-myung on Wednesday called for President Yoon Suk-yeol to apologize after his aides came under fire over an inappropriate memo that opposition lawmakers claimed was seen as demeaning a parliamentary audit session on the Itaewon crowd crush.

Kim Eun-hye, senior presidential secretary for press affairs, and Kang Seung-kyoo, senior presidential secretary for civil society, were asked to leave a parliamentary audit session Tuesday evening after press cameras caught a memo that read, “Hilarious,” on Kang’s notepad.
Local media outlet Edaily reported that the memo was presumably written by Kim while main opposition Democratic Party (DP) Rep. Kang Deuk-gu was asking questions to presidential chief of staff Kim Dae-ki on the government’s response over the Itaewon tragedy. It said Kim soon scribbled over the memo to hide it.

The presidential aides apologized for the word, saying they were talking about a personal issue and not the DP lawmaker’s questions. Kim said she attempted to erase the memo on concerns it could be misunderstood that she was referring to lawmaker Kang.

The DP leader called on Yoon to “have some time for introspection and apologize in a serious manner.”

“Due to what was clearly the government’s mistake, 157 flower-like lives were lost. Does a parliamentary audit that seeks to determine the cause of this look funny?” he said at the party’s Supreme Council meeting.

The DP leader reiterated his call for an all-out reshuffle of relevant officials to hold them to account.

“The government should take responsibility for failing to protect the people’s lives and safety, beginning with the prime minister’s resignation,” Lee said, also urging the firing of relevant top officials.

Lee also brought up the need for a special prosecutor.

The People Power Party has dismissed the call, claiming it will only hinder ongoing probes.

“The ruling party is not cooperating in investigating the truth,” Lee said. “We have to prepare for a special prosecutor probe, which takes a significant amount of time, from now on.”

The DP and two minor progressive parties submitted a joint request for a parliamentary investigation into the Itaewon crowd crush on Wednesday afternoon.

Kim, the senior presidential secretary, apologized again in front of reporters.

“I am deeply sorry for my inappropriate behavior,” she said during a press briefing at the presidential office. “I was not able to concentrate on the Steering Committee. I regret it. However, I want to be clear that the note had nothing to do with the Steering Committee or the Itaewon tragedy.”

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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