Seoul Lobbyist Sentenced in Seongnam Development Corruption CaseSouth Korea Promises Strong Response to Any North Korean Provocations

SEOUL — In a significant development related to a high-profile corruption scandal, the Seoul Central District Court on Tuesday sentenced a lobbyist to five years in prison for his involvement in irregularities surrounding a property development project in Seongnam City.

According to Yonhap News Agency, Kim In-seob, who served as a former campaign policy chief for Lee Jae-myung's bid for Seongnam mayor, was found guilty of accepting 7.7 billion won (approximately US$5.8 million) and other business rights from a property development firm in exchange for securing administrative favors.

The scandal is linked to Lee Jae-myung's tenure as the mayor of Seongnam, focusing on accusations that the municipal government extended special benefits to a private developer for the development of the Baekhyeon-dong area into apartment complexes between 2015 and 2016. In addition to the prison term, the court also ordered Kim to forfeit 6.35 billion won.

This ruling represents the first judicial decision within the broader scope of the corruption scandal, which implicates Lee Jae-myung, the current leader of the main opposition Democratic Party and former mayor of Seongnam from 2014 to 2017. Lee is also facing trial, accused of participating in the scandal and causing a 20 billion-won loss to Seongnam's housing development agency.

Prosecutors allege that Kim played a key role in illicitly lobbying then-Mayor Lee Jae-myung and one of his aides to ensure that Seongnam RandD PFV was selected as the exclusive partner for the development project, sidelining the city-run development agency, Seongnam Development Corp.

SEOUL — In the wake of heightened tensions due to North Korea's recent weapons tests, the South Korean military has declared its readiness to deliver an "overwhelming" response to any provocations from the North.

According to Yonhap News Agency, this announcement comes after North Korea revealed on Monday its development of a 240 mm-caliber controllable multiple rocket launcher shell and its ballistic control system, aimed at expanding its arsenal.

The JCS disclosed that it had detected and monitored North Korea's test firing of the new weaponry in real time on Sunday afternoon, conducting an analysis of its specifications in collaboration with the United States. "Our military maintains a posture that can overwhelmingly respond to North Korea's artillery provocations, while continuously monitoring its weapons development and enhancing our deterrence and response capabilities," stated JCS spokesperson Col. Lee Sung-jun during a regular press briefing.

Col. Lee further explained the military's decision not to immediately publicize the test, noting that the rocket launcher does not meet the criteria for disclosure under its established protocol, which typically covers the North's ballistic missile and major weapons tests. The test firing of the multiple rocket launcher shells took place towards the Yellow Sea from a location near the western port city of Nampho, as reported by military sources.

The deployment of North Korea's 240 mm multiple rocket launcher system near the border has been identified as a potential threat to the broader capital area of the South. This latest demonstration of military capability occurred just days before the birthday of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, a significant national holiday. However, the JCS has not observed any extraordinary military movements from North Korea in anticipation of the holiday.

The series of weapons tests conducted by North Korea since the start of the new year, including the launches of cruise missiles from both sea and land as well as artillery firings into waters near the western inter-Korean sea border, has significantly escalated tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

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