Photo: Kim Gi-hyeon, chairman of the People Power Party. Credit: Yonhap.
The chief of the ruling People Power Party 국민의힘 called for the death penalty for liberal journalists alleged to have libeled Yoon Suk-yeol 윤석열 during the presidential election. Three days before the presidential election in May 2022, the left-leaning investigative outlet Newstapa 뉴스타파 ran an article claiming that in 2011, then-prosecutor Yoon intervened to stop a criminal investigation into one of the suspects in the Busan Savings Bank 부산저축은행 failure. The article was based on an interview with Kim Man-bae 김만배, one of the ringleaders of the Daejang-dong 대장동 real estate scandal, by journalist Sin Hak-rim 신학림.
On September 8, prosecutors interrogated Sin over charges that he took money from Kim as payment for running fake news. Sin admitted that Kim paid him, but denied that the interview contained falsehoods. Kim also denied that the interview was staged, insisting that it was not an interview at all but a private conversation that Sin recorded without his permission.
People Power Party chairman Kim Gi-hyeon 김기현 국민의힘 당대표 accused the Democratic Party 민주당 of being behind the fake news, calling it “a coup attempt to destroy liberal democracy, an act of treason that should be punished with the death penalty.” Lee Dong-gwan 이동관, Yoon’s new head of the Korea Communications Commission 방송통신위원회, said the media outlets that ran the news should face massive fines and be shut down. (See previous coverage, “Lee Dong-gwan, Media Enforcer.”)