Photo: the Supreme Prosecutors' Office. Credit: Legal Times.
The death of Lee Jae-myung 이재명’s former chief of staff, who was facing investigation for the alleged bribery scheme in connection with the Seongnam FC football team (see previous coverage, “Absurd Charges Against Lee Jae-myung”), is once again throwing into relief a sharp increase in suicides during prosecutorial investigations in recent years.
According to a 2014 study by the Korean Institute of Criminology 한국형사정책연구원, the number of prosecutorial investigation targets who took their own lives remained in the single digits until 2007, a year that saw only one such death. That number jumped to 11 in 2008, and has consistently remained in the double digits since 2011.
The KIC study noted that over the ten-year period between 2004 and 2014, 72% of suicides were white collar professionals accused of bribery or embezzlement. The study noted that psychological trauma caused by press coverage of the crimes and political pressure applied by the government were contributing factors in the sharp increase in the number of suicides. (See previous coverage, “Tenfold Increase in Prosecutorial Raids.”)