Dubbed the “Dior bag scandal” by local papers, it has triggered a slump in Yoon’s already low approval ratings and set off a firestorm in his party, just months out from the key polls where they hope to win back a parliamentary majority.
As per a CNN report, Kim’s tenure as first lady has been marred by controversies, including accusations of resume embellishment and involvement in academic plagiarism and stock manipulation, which the presidential office has denied. The Dior bag incident has escalated into a significant crisis for Yoon and the ruling party as they prepare for an upcoming parliamentary election.
The controversy ignited when a video, allegedly showing Kim receiving the Dior bag from Korean American pastor Choi Jae-young, was leaked. Despite Kim’s protests in the video, the incident has fueled criticism of her for purportedly leveraging her position for personal gain.
Pastor Choi Jae-young, who is in favour of better ties with Pyongyang and has visited the North many times in the past, says he decided to film his meeting with the first lady after becoming concerned about her power within the president’s office.
He claimed at a press conference to have seen Kim direct the appointment of a senior finance official in a phone conversation during an earlier meeting.
“I was appalled from seeing Kim exercising power as if she were in charge of official appointments,” Choi said.
President Yoon, in addressing the allegations, emphasized the need for clearer boundaries in interactions to prevent public concern, while expressing regret over his wife’s handling of the situation.
Critics argue that the scandal reflects poorly on Kim’s judgment and has sparked a backlash against the president, whose approval ratings have suffered. The opposition has capitalized on the issue, accusing Yoon of hiding suspicions about his wife. Amidst this turmoil, Kim’s visibility has diminished, and the ruling party faces internal divisions and public criticism, complicating their efforts to maintain power in the upcoming election.
This scandal underscores the challenges faced by public figures in South Korea, where tolerance for corruption is low, especially following high-profile cases involving former presidents. Yoon, who rose to prominence as a corruption-fighting prosecutor, now confronts allegations of injustice within his own household, casting a shadow over his presidency.
(With inputs from agencies)