Photo: Kim Man-bae, former journalist and ringleader of the Daejang-dong real estate scandal. Credit: Yonhap.
The irony of the Daejang-dong real estate scandal is that while it damaged the presidential campaign of Democratic Party 민주당 candidate Lee Jae-myung 이재명, further investigations of the scandal have kept implicating conservatives and those who attacked Lee.
The latest revelations in the case continued the trend: Kim Man-bae 김만배, former journalist and the ringleader of the scheme to bribe public officials in exchange for development rights in the Daejang-dong neighborhood of Seongnam, Gyeonggi-do Province 경기도 성남, reportedly bribed dozens of journalists for favorable coverage.
Thus far, high-ranking editors from major dailies and cable TVs such as Bae Hye-rim 배혜림 of Channel A 채널에이, Jo Gang-su 조강수 of JoongAng Ilbo 중앙일보, Kim Jeong-gon 김정곤 of Hankook Ilbo 한국일보 and Seok Jin-hwan 석진환 from the Hankyoreh 한겨레 신문 have been revealed to have received bribes from Kim, who targeted editors covering legal or society news. All of them took a consistently critical stance against Lee Jae-myung and the Democratic Party, arguing the liberal party was engaged in hypocrisy by denying involvement in the Daejang-dong scandal.
Hankyoreh was the only outlet to take an active step of self-correction, by terminating Seok, having its editor in chief Ryu I-geun 류이근 편집국장 resign, and releasing a public report of internal investigation. JoongAng and Hankook simply issued a brief statement of apology that said the journalists in question resigned or were terminated. Channel A made no reference to the fact that one of its journalists was bribed.