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‘Dior bag scandal’ puts president’s bid to win upcoming polls at risk – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: President Yoon Suk Yeol and his ruling People Power Party (PPP) are facing a major controversy following the release of hidden camera footage that appears to show South Korea‘s first lady, Kim Keon Hee, accepting a Dior bag as a gift, according to a Reuters report.
The incident, dubbed the “Dior bag scandal” by local media, has put the president’s bid to reclaim a parliamentary majority in election scheduled for April 10 at risk.
Some members of the PPP have called for President Yoon and his wife to apologize for the incident and acknowledge that accepting the purse was inappropriate.
Political analyst Rhee Jong-hoon said, “it is a political bombshell, and warned “the Kim Keon Hee risks are only going to get bigger.”
Analysts suggest that Kim’s acceptance of the purse, priced at 3 million won ($2,250), may have violated an anti-bribery law. Supporters of the president argue that Kim is a victim of an illegal plot to set her up and smear her reputation. The case came to light in November when a YouTube channel aired a secretly recorded video of a Korean American pastor, Reverend Abraham Choi, handing the bag to Kim during a visit.
Reverend Choi, who has been involved in religious exchanges with North Korea and advocates for engagement with Pyongyang, claims that he sought a meeting with Kim out of concern for President Yoon’s hardline North Korea policy. According to Choi, Kim’s response to discussions about luxury gifts led him to believe that such gifts were necessary to secure a meeting with her.
Yoon’s office declined to comment on Choi’s claims. An unnamed presidential official told Yonhap news agency that Choi deliberately approached Kim with the intention of illegally filming her using his family connections. The official also stated that gifts to the couple are considered property of the government.
Meanwhile, Kim is also facing allegations of stock price manipulation from around 12 years ago, and the opposition-controlled parliament recently voted to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the case.
PPP opposed the bill, viewing it as a plot by the Democratic Party to hinder an investigation into its leader, Lee Jae-myung, and his corruption charges, which he denies. President Yoon vetoed the bill, considering it politically motivated. In 2021, Kim publicly apologized after allegations of falsified professional records and plagiarism in her PhD thesis overshadowed Yoon’s presidential campaign.
Some PPP members are concerned that public sentiment is focused on Kim rather than the hidden camera sting. Tensions between President Yoon’s office and the party escalated when a party member Kim Kyung-yul compared the situation to Marie Antoinette’s notoriety for her extravagance. Yoon reportedly wanted to remove the party’s leader, Han Dong-hoon, causing a brief split between the president and his protégé.
According to a recent poll, 69% of respondents believe President Yoon needs to explain his position on the controversy surrounding the First Lady. Another poll conducted in December showed that 53% of respondents believed Kim acted inappropriately, while 27% believed she was caught in a trap.
Meanwhile, Shin Yul, a political science professor at Myongji University said, “The general public thinks, ‘okay, it may be a trap, but why did she take it (the bag) anyway?'”
President Yoon won a closely contested election in 2022, but his party is currently a minority in parliament, which is controlled by the rival Democratic Party.





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