On October 5, 2021, Opposition Parties including the People Power Party (PPP) and the Justice Party demanded the independent Lawmaker Yoon Mee-hyang (a former member of the Democratic Party) resign from the National Assembly and apologize to the public for “her shameless impudence,” following the indictment including her misappropriation of the donations for former comfort women to pay Korean barbecue restaurants and massage shops while working as the head of the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issue of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan. However, Ms. Yoon squarely denied the charges, asserting that the payments had been all covered by public funds as welfare expenses. The Democratic Party has not expressed its stance on this issue yet.
Ms. Heo Eun-ah, a senior spokesman of the PPP, said, “According to the indictment, Ms. Yoon spent the donations for former comfort women to pay her expenses at Korean barbecue restaurants, confectionary shops or foot massage spas and her public utility charges,” “We wonder what Ms. Yoon was doing amid suspicion of such offenses when the PPP Lawmakers Yoon Hee-sook and Kwak Sang-do resigned due to their families’ problems.” Ms. Heo added, “The Democratic Party is a double-standard party.” In September 2020, Ms. Yoon Mee-hyang was indicted on eight charges of embezzlement of the donations for former comfort women, fraud and breaches of trust. The Democratic Party only expelled Ms. Yoon, elected by the proportional representation system, so that she could maintain her seat in the National Assembly.
The PPP’s presidential candidates also demanded her resignation. The spokesperson for Yoon Seok-yeol, the former Prosecutor General, said, “Ms. Yoon should immediately resign from the National Assembly because of her shameless embezzlement of the donations for former comfort women,” and “People would be shocked at the contents of the indictment.” Former Lawmaker Yoo Seung-min also said on Facebook, “The chairman of the Democratic Party protected Ms. Yoon giving an excuse that the fact was distorted by the media and only expelled her to maintain her seat in the National Assembly,” and “Even the first trial has not finished yet because the judicial branch under the Moon Jae-in administration has prolonged Ms. Yoon’s case for eleven months.” Mr. Choe Jae-hyeong, the former Chairman of the Board of Audit and Inspection, said, “The money donated by the public is not for massaging Ms. Yoon’s feet,” and “Whoever exploits the weak and steals public money should not be engaged in politics in any way.” Mr. Won Hee-ryong, the former governor of Jeju Province, said, “Her staying in the National Assembly is nothing but a shame of the public and the Assembly.” Lawmaker Ha Tae-kyung said, “Where she is to be is a prison.”
Ms. Yoon Mee-hyang, however, denied all the charges by condemning the related media reports to be vicious. On this day, she said, by referring to the Chosun Ilbo reporting the indictment, “All of the articles about me embezzling the donations are untrue,” and “I protest against the news reports making personal attacks as if all the details of the indictment were fixed crime.” She also said, “The articles insist I used the donations for personal purposes, but the cited expenses were for the public affairs and welfare programs such as public events and all covered by the official money as public funds,” and, “Some expenses for private purposes were paid from my private funds rather than donations.” Additionally, she said, “I will make it through this unfair situation arising from unreasonable indictment by the prosecutors.”
The Justice Party said through the spokesperson, “Ms. Yoon should stop her excuse that she has done nothing shameful and is frustrated, and explain clearly about the facts as they are and apologize in front of the public,” “She severely hurt feelings of supporters of the Korean Council due to her incorrect habits and the uncertain distinction between the public and private matters,” and “We request the National Assembly to call the ethics committee immediately to discuss disciplinary proceedings.” Rep. Kang Min-jin of The Youth Justice Party also posted messages on Facebook to demand Ms. Yoon’s resignation, saying “We can’t find any proper reasons for using a civic group’s official money for paying its representative’s general income tax.” On the same day, however, the Democratic Party did not make any comments on this issue.