Rep. Park gets 2-year prison term
Park Joo-sun, a Gwangju-based independent lawmaker, has been sentenced to two years in prison which would see him lose his National Assembly seat if the verdict is upheld by the Supreme Court.
The Gwangju District Court handed down the jail term to the three-term lawmaker Wednesday on charges of violating the election law in the lead-up to April’s parliamentary elections.
However, Park was not immediately put behind bars but the court will send the Assembly a written request for his arrest.
The 63-year-old will be stripped of his seat according to the law that punishes legislators if given a jail term or a fine of 1 million won or over.
The former Democratic United Party (DUP) member was indicted for ordering a district office head of his electorate, Yu Tae-myeong, to organize private groups and lure voters for the party’s preliminary mobile election by offering them money.
He was also charged with pre-electioneering as he appealed for support from village chiefs of the electorate at a restaurant in Hwasun, South Jeolla Province, on Jan. 19 before official campaigning started.
“Park agreed to organize the groups and this is backed by testimonies from his aides. Even if he made an indirect order to his aides or connived in their wrongdoing, the boss, who would be the beneficiary of the misdeeds, should take responsibility,” the court said in its ruling.
That’s why the court handed down a heavier term than the one year in jail the prosecution had sought, it added.
Yu of Dong-gu, a public official who was ineligible to take part in electioneering according to the law, was sentenced to two years in prison for helping Park with his private groups. He was taken to jail straight from the court.
The Dong-gu chief was also indicted for giving department store vouchers worth 100,000 won each to 14 heads of women’s groups in the district in exchange for their support for Park.
Another four aides to Park received jail terms of between eight months and three years.
The illegal electioneering caused a stir in February when a head of a village committed suicide by jumping off a community center building after being questioned by the regional election commission officials. After the incident, Park left the DUP and ran as an independent candidate.
Park said he will appeal the verdict.