What They Said is a regular series on the quotes Korea is talking about.
The future looks uncertain for Lee Jae-myung
Lee Jae-myung, a former presidential candidate and current governor of Gyeonggi Province, has been in and out of the news for a while, along with his wife, Kim Hye-kyung, over a twitter account. Currently inactivated, a twitter user by the username ’08_hkkim’, had posted political tweets for over five years. Since 2013, Lee communicated with this user via his official twitter account as well. Because the initials in the username “hkkim” match those of Lee’s wife, and because of a series of derogatory tweets about former gubernatorial candidates for Gyeonggi Province, people have suggested that Lee’s wife Kim was the scribe.
This particular issue surfaced in April, prior to the local elections, as tweets from this account actively supported and rooted for Lee while slandering former president Roh Moo-hyun, current president Moon Jae-in, and the then candidate for the governor of Gyeonggi Province Jeon Hae-cheol. Not only that, the account exchanged insults and jabs with other Twitter users and made jokes about the Sewol ferry. The police started the investigation, and the account was deactivated in April.
Twitter has refused to release the user information to the Korean government. If Kim is found to be the owner of this account, she will be charged with violating the Public Official Election Act, which prohibits anyone from spreading false information, slandering other candidates running for government election, etc.
In November, the police announced after investigation that the said account does belong to Lee’s wife and recommended prosecution. Lee and Kim have denied this, saying that the police does not have concrete proof.
On December 11, however, the Prosecutors’ Office, decided not to prosecute Kim on the grounds of insufficient evidence.
Here are some of the controversial tweets that were posted from the account:
— February 14, 2016
(a tweet to several other Twitter users) I’ll be praying that your family gets on the second Sewol ferry so that you’ll become the family of the deceased. (smiley face)
— February 13, 2016
(a tweet to another Twitter user) Hope your daughter gets on the Sewol ferry and has the same thing happen to her. Really. Also, wash your daughter if you can. She smells.
— December 19, 2016
It’s not even an issue that Choi Soon-sil placed Jeong Yu-ra in college. Isn’t Moon Jae-in’s son still working at the Korea Employment Information Service? He probably quit? Lucky gold spoons (people born into a wealthy or influential family)
— April 2017
Choi Sung, Moon’s dog (Moondotgae, a portmanteau of Moon Jae-in and jindotgae, Jindo dog), should just resign.
You can’t change the government if you get rid of Moon Jae-in… Roar… Are you shitting me… Is Moon Jae-in the hope of the Republic of Korea? Crazy Daliban (a derogatory term for Moon Jae-in supporters. The word is a portmanteau of dal, meaning moon in Korean, and Taliban).
Neither Moon Jae-in or his wife think…
— December 31, 2016
If Moon becomes the president, he’ll end up like Roh Moo-hyun, so let’s just watch that happen. At least he’s better than the guy with the president disease (a sarcastic term referring to someone who continues to try out for the presidential election or someone who goes too far in his speeches or actions with the thought of trying out for the next presidential election).
— April 3, 2018
And what about Jeon Hae-cheol who’s colluding with the KLP? He turned this Gyeonggi provincial election into a shithole. If he loses, he’ll brazenly head to Yeouido (National Assembly).
It seems the legal part of the battle has ceased at least temporarily, but Lee is still under fire for abuse of power in admitting his older brother, who is alleged to be clinically insane. He is currently being prosecuted for the above charge and for violating the Public Official Election Act by spreading false information about the above incident. If found guilty, he’ll have to resign from his post. Lee is one of the most likely candidates for the next presidential election, so it’ll be interesting to see how everything plays out.
Private kindergarten principals have become one of the least loved people in Korea…
‘Private kindergartens’ was one of the most mentioned words in Korean news in the recent months with National Assembly member Park Yong-jin making public a list of kindergartens that misused government money between 2013 and 2017. Private kindergartens account for about 80 percent of all kindergartens in Korea. Of more than 6000 kindergartens in Korea, a third (2,058) have been audited and 1,878 were found to have misused funding. While it is difficult to claim that all 1,878 kindergartens have misused funding as some were found to be down to simple errors, some kindergartens were not included on the list as they are currently in the process of suing the government regarding the audit results.
The results of the audits released by Park this year revealed that many kindergartens have embezzled funds. While kindergarten teachers’ monthly wages were only about KRW 2 million , principals received at least ten times the amount. Moreover, some kindergarten principals used slush funds to purchase brand name purses, sex toys, tour packages, and more, parents in particular were outraged and began to demand answers from kindergartens. National Assembly member Park Yong-jin introduced three bills to better control the funds that are given to private kindergartens (Private Kindergarten Act, Infants and Children Education Act, and School Lunch Act). But there was a huge backlash from the Korean Kindergarten Association (KKA).
On November 29, the KKA held a rally in Gwanghwamun Square to protest against the three Kindergarten bills. Lee Deok-seon, the head of the emergency measure committee of the KKA, took to the microphone that day and threatened to shut down all private kindergartens:
I’d like to ask the Ministry of Education and politicians. Are private kindergartens private businesses or schools? Are private kindergarten teachers civilians or government workers? Kindergarten principals invest 100 percent of their money into their kindergartens like private businesses and even pay the property tax, yet they can’t even take one cent as profit. Private kindergartens have to meet all the regulations and perform their duties like schools, but the government takes no responsibility at all for investing in private kindergartens as they do for schools. In the media, the government misleads the people as though private kindergartens receive a lot of tax exemptions, but what tax exemptions can we receive when the government made it so that we can’t profit from running private kindergartens?… Also providing KRW 980,000 per child attending public kindergartens and only providing KRW 290,000 per child attending private kindergartens is discrimination. I request that the Ministry of Education support private kindergartens in the direction of normalizing the labor costs for teachers at private kindergartens, who face a higher work intensity than teachers at public kindergartens. All principals and board members of private kindergartens believe that the so-called three Park Yong-jin bills are unjust laws. That’s because none of those laws recognize private property, which is a fundamental concept in free democracy. If our just demands are ignored and the evil Park Yong-jin laws are not revised, then all of us private kindergartens cannot but choose to shut down.
— Lee Deok-seon, head of the emergency measure committee of the KKA. Nov 29, 2018.
However, people aren’t buying Lee and the KKA’s argument. The KKA argues that the government only provides KRW 290,000 per child attending private kindergartens while funding KRW 980,000 per child attending public kindergartens. This is an unfair comparison. The government provides KRW 220,000 for regular programs and KRW 70,000 for after school programs, for a total of KRW 290,000. As for public kindergartens, the government provides KRW 60,000 for regular programs and KRW 50,000 for after school programs, which comes to a total of KRW 110,000. Then where does KRW 980,000 come from? It includes all other expenses that the government provides to public kindergartens, which are also provided to private kindergartens, including expenses to improve working conditions for the teachers, classroom expenses, stationary expenses, and others.
Some parents are boycotting some of these problem kindergartens, but in a country where most parents work full time, parents have no choice but to send their kids to even these problem kindergartens. Unfortunately, the three bills proposed by Park Yong-jin have not been passed at the National Assembly, and it seems the controversy will continue in the future.
To end on a positive note
Park Hang-seo, former South Korean football player and manager who is currently the head coach of the Vietnamese national football team, has been receiving a lot of media attention in Vietnam. Under his leadership, the Vietnamese national football team went on to the quarterfinals and semifinals in the Asian Games in 2018 for the first time ever. Although the Vietnamese lost to South Korea and the UAE and ended up in the fourth place, the people of Vietnam celebrated Park and their national football team nonetheless. And on December 15, Vietnam won the AFF Suzuki Cup for the first time in 10 years, and Park received a hero’s welcome from the people of Vietnam.
Park responded to their enthusiasm, saying,
I’m very happy. I’d like to thank all the players. The people of Vietnam also cheered us on. I am honored to feel the love of the Vietnamese fans. I’d like to dedicate this trophy to the people of Vietnam. This was the work of a team. There isn’t much that I do as a coach. It was possible because all 23 players made a lot of effort. I’m very happy to be with the Vietnamese team, and it is an honor to be a bridge between Vietnam and Korea as well.”
— Park Hang-seo, Dec 15, 2018.
Park was also named Person of the Year 2018 in South Korea.