Photo: Kim Geon-hee shopping at a luxury boutique in Vilnius, Lithuania. Credit: zmones.lt
One of the many reasons for President Yoon Suk-yeol’s 윤석열 historic levels of unpopularity is his wife, Kim Geon-hee 김건희. The former art curator has been an unending source of trouble, ranging from a blatantly plagiarized doctoral dissertation, a thoroughly fake curriculum vitae, a string of white-collar crimes and a persistent rumor that she was formerly a sex worker. (See previous coverage, “The First Lady’s Many Troubles.”)
Several stories have landed the First Lady in the news again over the past few weeks. The Land Ministry 국토교통부 rushed to cancel plans for a highway project after news reports showed that the plans had been abruptly redrawn shortly after the presidential election to terminate on real estate owned by Kim’s family. During Yoon’s visit to the NATO summit in Lithuania, Kim was seen sweeping through Vilnius’s luxury boutiques with a dozen bodyguards. Then on July 21, Kim’s mother Choi Eun-sun 최은순 was sentenced to one year in prison for buying real estate using a forged bank statement falsified to show an account balance of KRW 34.7b (USD 27.1m).
It appears that the public is getting tired of seeing the First Lady in the news. In a poll released by Newstomato 뉴스토마토 on July 21, a strong majority, or 68.5%, said Kim needed to minimize her public appearance and focus on assisting the president. Likewise, a majority 61.6% said Kim needed to explain herself and apologize for luxury shopping during an official diplomatic trip. On the issue of the highway, 63.0% of respondents were in favor of a legislative investigation into how the plans were suddenly redrawn.