Disclaimer: The following is a totally personal unauthoritative translation and summary of so-called ‘money-envelope’ controversy that rattles the whole Korean politics from the start of this year. Since it is a still evolving controversy, it would not make any sense to translate single article in conveying the whole picture of the incident. Rather, I chose to collect a series of articles under the same theme. Most articles in this post are excerpts from <The Kyunghyang Shinmun> and two of them are from <The Seoul Shinmun>. All rights regarding this post stay with authors of articles excerpted in this post or with <The Kyunghyang Shinmun> or with <The Seoul Shinmun> and this post will be scrapped immediately at their requests. In the post, I paid much effort to make translations of names of persons or institutions / job positions as authentic as possible but some of them, inevitably, may not match their authentic English translations. Original news articles of each item in this post (in Korean) can be located by the corresponding links.
The whole controversy broke out of a party representative’s press interview.
- On Jan. 4, Grand National Party (GNP) Representative Go Seung-deok first exposed the delivery of 3M KRW from one of the party leader candidates’ camps in one of the past party conventions in a press interview. … “Once, I got an envelope with 3M KRW in it from one of the party leader candidates before a party convention during the current 18th National Assembly. I returned it back right away. Eventually, he was elected. That candidate and the one who delivered the money were all pro-Lee Myung-bak faction, but, after the party convention, they were too cold to me who had actually supported him.” Although he did not mention any real names, he mentioned “former party leaders Park Hee-tae, Ahn Sang-soo, Hong Jun-pyo are all pro-Lee faction, right?” and added “but, it was not what happened at the Jul. 4th party convention, last year (where former party leader Hong was elected).” 고승덕 “전당대회 후보가 300만원 돈봉투 전달” 폭로
- The same day, GNP emergency measures committee (EMC) which is presided by Rep. Park Geun-hye requested the prosecution to investigate the ‘party convention money envelope’ scandal. 한나라, ‘전대 돈봉투’ 파문 … 비대위, 검찰에 수사 의뢰
- However, reports on chronic money spraying practice in GNP convention followed suit. “모 후보는 **억 썼다더라” … 세 번의 전대 돈선거 논란
- Another GNP Rep. exposed that the irregularity in GNP convention was not limited to money spray. They also treated meals to collect votes as well. 조전혁 “돈봉투 뿐 아니라 ‘밥잔치’도 벌어졌다”
Since GNP had only a limited number of leaders during the 18th National Assembly period, the one Rep. Go had mentioned in his interview was narrowed to the current Chairperson of National Assembly Park Hee-tae eventually.
- The Chairperson of National Assembly, Park Hee-tae, who surfaced as the figure of the ‘money-envelope’ scandal denied any involvement on Jan. 6. 박희태 “전혀 모르는 일” … ‘돈봉투 의혹’ 부인
- A Presidential secretary who had worked for Chairperson Park and, for that reason, had been suspected to be the possible delivery man of the money to Rep. Go denied the suspicion that he was involved in the money delivery. 김효재 “내가 전대 돈봉투 전달자? 고승덕과는…”
- In the meantime, Chairperson Park officially announced on Jan. 7, that he would not run for next general election on Apr. 11. But, he dismissed any connection between his decision and the ‘money envelope’ suspicion on him. 박희태 양산 불출마 공식 선언 … ‘돈봉투’는 무관 강조
Then, the Chairperson Park, the central figure of the whole ‘money-envelope’ controversy, left Korea for official business abroad.
- In the midst of ‘money-envelope’ investigation, Chairperson Park left Korea for official visits to 4 foreign countries (Japan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Sri Lanka) on Jan. 8. The trip would take 11 days. ‘돈봉투’ 수사중 박희태 국회의장 해외 출국
However, the ‘money-envelope’ controversy seemed like developing into a power struggle.
- Rep. Go who exposed ‘money-envelope’ controversy for the first time said the money came from the Chairperson Park’s camp at his deposition in the prosecution on Jan. 9. “박희태 측이 보냈다” 고승덕, 검찰서 진술
- Rep. Park Geun-hey, the Chairperson of GNP EMC, emphasized “‘money-envelope’ should be the turning point of old-fashioned politics … and they need reform that superseding party recreation” on Jan. 9, which is something that has been going on many times in the history of GNP. 박근혜, “돈봉투, 구태정치 결별 계기 … 재창당 뛰어넘는 쇄신”
- However, Chairperson Park maintained his innocence and requested Rep. Go to clearly reveal the delivery person. 박희태 “고 의원, 누가 줬는지 확실히 밝혀야”
- Although Rep. Go exposed ‘money-envelope’ incident at a party convention in 2008, the prosecution was known to investigate other party conventions in 2010 as well as proportional candidate selection processes in 2008. “2010년엔 같은 계파에만 거액 뿌려”
- Another GNP multi-time Rep. Won Hee-ryong, however, exposed that last presidential candidacy race where President Lee Myung-bak and Rep. Park Geun-hye competed against each other neck on neck in 2007 was not an exception either, in terms of money spray, on Jan. 10. 원희룡 “대선후보 경선도 돈선거 예외 아니다”
- Former GNP leader Rep. Hong Jun-pyo also noted that last presidential candidacy race in 2007 could have been messier on Jan. 11. 홍준표 “지난 대선후보 경선 수천명씩 동원” … 박근혜 정조준
The public sentiment was clearly frosty against the GNP ‘money-envelope’ controversy.
- More than 90% of people said they would consider the ‘money-envelope’ controversy as their decision criterion in the coming general election in Apr. 11. “돈봉투 사건, 총선 판단 기준 삼을 것” 90% 넘어
The prosecution’s investigation, however, evolved into the pro-Lee Myung-bak faction’s disadvantaged direction.
- On Jan. 11, it was revealed that former aide of Chairperson Park had delivered the money to Rep. Go. 돈봉투 돌린 ‘뿔테안경 남자’는 박희태 전 보좌관
- The prosecution secured a document and depositions that indicated systematic money spray scheme by Chairperson Park’s camp. 돈 건네며 구의원들에 ‘대상’ 지정 … ‘조직적 살포’ 정황
- Rep.’s in pro-Lee Myung-bak faction were provoked by the development of ‘money-envelope’ controversy and claimed that was a conspiracy by pro-Park Geun-hye faction to eradicate them from GNP power. “돈봉투 사건, 이제오 제거 음모”
- Some GNP members added specific details of ‘vote-buying’ scheme in the last party convention. “박희태, 공성진 찍으라고 했다”
- Adding more shameful touch to GNP, a GNP official’s effort to destroy party-convention related documents was caught by a daily newspaper’s investigation. [단독]한나라 쓰레기 더미서 돈봉투 명단 발견
- The GNP official claimed that he destroyed documents to protect the organization. “조직 지키려 돈봉투 문서 파기”
- But, the GNP official was eventually put into prosecution’s custody for fear of destruction of evidence. ‘돈봉투 고리’ 안병용 구속
Finally, the Chairperson Park returned from his trip abroad. But, denying any knowledge of ‘vote-buying’ scheme for himself, he declined to step down from the Chairperson of National Assembly, causing a widespread public anger.
- Chairperson Park, “I don’t know anything about ‘money-envelope’ … I will watch the investigation” on Jan. 18. 박희태 “‘돈봉투’ 모르는 일 … 수사결과 따라 책임”
- And, the offices of National Assembly Chairperson were seized and searched by the prosecution for the first time in the history of National Assembly on Jan. 19. [국회의장실 압수수색] 귀국 단 하루만에, 사전 예고도 없이… 檢, 박희태 찔렀다