North Korean media outlets, Uriminjokkiri and Meari are all out to protect Yoon Mi-hyang, a newly elected South Korean parliamentarian and a member of the ruling Minjoo Party. ( https://www.donga.com/news/Pol
Ms. Yoon has been in the South Korean press recently because of the myriad allegations of corrupt financial dealings while she was the Chair of a civic organization called JeongDaeHyup.
For the past thirty years or so, JeongDaeHyup has been actively involved in helping comfort women, the victims of institutionalized sexual abuse in the hands of the Imperial Japanese military during the WWII.
Ms. Yoon’s untoward financial dealings, which included fundraising efforts on behalf of the comfort women, have come under scrutiny because her personal accounts had been used in the fundraising for a variety of programs.
Ms. Lee Yong-su, affectionately referred to Lee Halmoni or Grandma Lee, a former comfort woman aged ninety-two, has accused Yoon of malfeasance in a press conference in Daegu on May 9, 2020, setting off an uproar that led to a public condemnation of Ms. Yoon. A public opinion poll indicated that about 80% of the South Koreans thought that Ms. Yoon should resign her National Assembly post.
She did not resign her post, insisting that she had done nothing wrong. She implied that Lee Halmoni was suffering memory loss.
Lee Halmoni held a second press conference and proved that her memory was fine. She named dates and hours of various events she had attended in amazing detail and proved Ms. Yoon’s theory wrong. Lee Halmoni was steadfast in accusing Ms. Yoon for taking advantage of comfort women for her own personal gain for decades. Lee Halmoni clarified again that JeongDaeHyup’s original charter actually does not include a focus on comfort women’s welfare. JeongDaeHyup is an organization for those women who had been conscripted to labor camps in Japan, not comfort stations situated in army garrisons. Yet, JeongDaeHyup have used comfort women for fundraising purposes. Lee Halmoni said, “We were the bears who put on the show, and [Yoon] kept the money all these years.”
Meanwhile, the ruling Minjoo Party defended Ms. Yoon despite the unfavorable public opinion. The Minjoo Party’s mouthpieces began suggesting that somebody was coaching Lee Halmoni to say the things she was saying, implying that the pro-Japanese factions from the opposing party was trying to discredit all the work the Moon government had done for comfort women.
This theory did not stand up to further examination. Lee Halmoni had been a staunch supporter of President Moon Jae-in all along.
Now that the Prosecution Service has begun investigating the allegations of corruption on the part of Ms. Yoon and JeongDaeHyup, the truth remains to be told.
So, the question is—why is North Korea interested in what seems to be a South Korean issue featuring a standoff between the ruling Minjoo Party and the opposing party? The intensity of North Korean support for Ms. Yoon is extraordinary. What’s more, the North Korean rhetoric is as fierce as it had been during the disbanding of the TongJin Party.
Meari called the criticizers of Ms. Yoon as conservative factions who are no more than “aboriginal Japanese pirates” and enemies of Korean people.
Uriminjokkiri wrote, “the corrupt conservative factions underhandly conspired to generate resentment toward the progressive democratic forces,” and called for the “endless struggle to demolish the pro-Japan traitors.”
We will never know why the North Korean mouthpieces are so intent on saving Ms. Yoon from her downfall and possible prison time if convicted of her shenanigans. Perhaps they are concerned for her human rights and presumption of her innocence. But by the loud sound of their rhetoric, one can presume that there is benefit for North Korea to keep Ms. Yoon in the National Assembly. We have to ask why.