Photo: Choi Eun-sun enters the court for her sentence. Credit: Newsis.
President Yoon Suk-yeol 윤석열 대통령's mother-in-law was sentenced to one year in prison for forging loan documents. On July 21, the Euijeongbu District Court 의정부 지방법원 sentenced Choi Eun-sun 최은순, mother of First Lady Kim Geon-hee 김건희, in an appeals proceeding that upheld the trial court’s sentence.
The 76-year-old Choi broke down upon hearing the sentence, screaming that she would kill herself, and was carried out of the courtroom by four bailiffs. This is the first time in South Korean history that the mother-in-law of a sitting president was imprisoned.
Choi was charged with faking a bank statement in 2013, a year after Yoon Suk-yeol and Kim Geon-hee were married, indicating that she had a bank balance of KRW 34.7b (USD 27.1m) in order to buy real estate under a false name. In 2021, Choi was sentenced to three years in prison for the separate crime of illegally receiving government subsidies for a nursing home, but her conviction was overturned on appeal in December 2022.
The Office of the President 대통령실 declined to comment, saying: “A decision by the judiciary is not a matter for the presidential office to comment on.” Yoon claimed during the presidential campaign that his mother-in-law “may have been a victim of fraud, but she never caused a penny of damage to anyone.” As the Supreme Prosecutor 검찰총장, Yoon ran a task force within the Public Prosecutors’ Office 검찰청 that crafted legal defense strategies for his mother-in-law, who has, along with Yoon’s wife, long faced numerous allegations of white-collar crimes.