Last Friday (3rd), the first trial of Democratic Party Representative Lee Jae-myung was held. It is a case of "violation of election laws" for publishing false facts when he was a presidential candidate in his 20s. It is a little different from the Daejang-dong and Seongnam FC cases, which are under investigation by the prosecutor's office, but the political ramifications of the outcome of the trial may be even greater. This is because if a fine of more than 100 million won is confirmed for violating the election law, Lee will have to step down as a member of the National Assembly and will not be able to run for the next presidential election. The MDP must also return 431.3 billion won in election expenses and <> million won in donations used in the presidential election process. In short, it could be a trial directly related to the political life of this representative.
In court, the first trial is usually of a blitzkrieg nature. It is conducted in the form of hearing what the prosecution is and what the defendant's position is on it. It's also a time to get a glimpse of the key issues that will be dealt with in the trial in the future. Lee's first trial, from day one, was a fierce battle with the prosecution. Ahead of Mr. Lee's second trial next week, we'll take a look at what was said in the first trial and what the issues will be in the future in our <Interview File>
"If you look up the word 'know' in the dictionary, it means to feel or realize with consciousness or sensation. I'm talking about a state of consciousness formed by experience. When you see someone more than a few times, can you say you "know" them? What kind of criteria? I'm not sure. I don't think what the defendant said was about his cognitive state, not about the 'dignity' of individual experience."
- Counsel for Democratic Party Representative Lee Jae-myung -
At the first trial held last week, Lee prepared a 20-page PPT. At first glance, the PPT content looked like an introduction to Korean language class material. There was a lengthy explanation of the dictionary definitions and meanings of the expressions "know" and "don't know." So why was it suddenly mobilized in court to the national language office? The answer comes from looking at what is at the heart of the allegations against Lee. When Lee was a presidential candidate in his 20s, he was accused of publishing false facts in a broadcast interview, saying that he "did not know" the late Kim Moon-ki, the first director of development of the Seongnam Urban Development Corporation, who was in charge of the Daejang-dong project. The representative, who has denied the allegations outright, came out with dictionary definitions of "know" and "don't know" to break the prosecution's logic. The logic is that "know" and "don't know" are relative concepts because they refer to subjective cognitive states, and the expression "I didn't know" is not false even if we have met them a few times. The representative argued that "the standard of 'knowing people' has a relative and evaluative component," and that "some people say they know even if they have seen them once, and some people say that they do not know even if they have met them several times, and personal acquaintance seems to mean that they have a personal relationship." The phrase "I know personally" goes beyond mere cognition, and the expressions "I remember my face" and "I have a conversation" and "I know personally" have completely different meanings.
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Furthermore, the representative emphasized that while Lee had met with former Chief Kim, there was no particularly "memorable" contact. If you add the Seongnam city civil servants to the executives and employees of affiliated agencies, it is 4,600, and there are 16 team leaders who are in the same rank as former chief Kim, can you remember the junior staff? Regarding the fact that Chairman Lee and former Chief Executive Kim traveled together on a business trip, he said, "When Chairman Lee was mayor of Seongnam, he went on 10 overseas business trips, and about 1 people went together at a time," adding, "I don't know if I can remember the employee who went with me on one of them." Meeting and talking face-to-face in public and private is a different matter, and I have never had private contact with former Chief Kim. As a result, even if you met Former Chief Kim for a report or played golf together on an overseas business trip, the argument is that saying that you "don't know" Former Chief Kim on the air was only referring to your "cognition" at the time, so it cannot be a false "fact."
The prosecution has also been fully prepared as this is the first trial. I spent more than an hour reading the accusations against Representative Lee and refuting his logic one by one. And in the process, the Korean dictionary was used again. First, prosecutors pointed out that Lee was changing his claim from "didn't know" Kim to "no memory." According to the affidavit, Lee claims to the effect that his memory is that he did not know Kim when he was mayor of Seongnam. The prosecutor emphasized that "memory" also means to remember, and that remembering someone means reconstructing past actions or experiences that existed between that person and themselves. Further, the prosecution argued that voters should consider how the remarks were received by the voters and their positions. The statement that "I don't know former Chief Kim" naturally means that voters have no choice but to accept that there were no memorable acts or experiences with him. The prosecutor pointed out that "I don't know what Representative Lee was trying to hide, but he cut off his relationship with former Chief Kim and blocked follow-up questions about whether he received Kim's report as a licensee of Daejang-dong when he was mayor of Seongnam, and why Kim died while under investigation related to the case." The reasoning is that the remarks were made with "intention" to prevent the spread of public criticism by cutting off the association with former Chief Executive Kim, who was in charge of the operation, early at a time when negative public opinion against Chairman Yi was spreading due to allegations of preferential treatment for the development of Daejang-dong.
Lee Jae-myung "Yoon Seok-yeol's statement that he did not know Kim Man-bae is not prosecuted... Prosecutor "Personality of Speech · The content is completely different"
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There was another issue. This is the representative statement, "We dismissed candidate Yoon Seok-yeol's statement that he did not know Kim Man-bae without investigation, and for Lee Jae-myung's statement that he did not know Kim Moon-ki, we seized and searched it, summoned dozens of people, and prosecuted him." Counsel for the defense focused on this issue in court, arguing the issue of equity in the prosecution's investigation. Lee's remarks refer to an incident in which President Yoon Seok-yeol was accused of saying "I never had a phone call with Mr. Kim Man-bae" during last year's presidential nomination contest and later saying, "I remember Mr. Kim coming to a dinner party." Again, there were accusations against civic groups, but the prosecution did not press charges. The representative said that the prosecutor's judgment at the time appeared to be an "appropriate judgment" in line with existing precedent. Since the relationship is only an opinion or opinion, it would have been inappropriate if the prosecution had actually investigated the contact between Kim Man-bae and President Yoon based on these statements. However, Lee said, "I think the standards in the two cases are too different," and "I wonder if the prosecution is applying different standards depending on the case."
If so, we must first consider on what basis the prosecution did not indict President Yun. We should first look at what President Yun's remarks that the prosecution dismissed from prosecuting are. Just before the 20th presidential election in September 2021, he said at the People's Power Contest Debate, "I have no personal relationship with [Kim Man-bae]. I think a few years ago, I sat over there at a sitting prosecutor's office and said hello." The prosecutor's office says that President Yoon and Representative Lee's remarks cannot be compared because they are completely different in nature and content. A prosecutor's office official explained, "President Yun's remarks were to the effect that they had no personal relationship, but Representative Lee's remarks are not an expression of opinion," adding, "The case is completely different because it is a false statement about specific facts, such as playing golf together on a business trip." This representative's statement is more of an expression of concrete facts because he does not know his face because he has no facts of his actions or interactions with former Chief Kim, and he did not play golf during his business trip to Australia. In this context, the prosecution cites as the main basis for its rebuttal the fact that it has rejected subjective assessments such as statements to the effect that "Yoo Dong-kyu is not a close associate" against Lee. Ultimately, it seems that the key issue in this trial will be how the court of first instance will interpret the nature of the statement "I know." It is also important to say that there was an active intent to get elected. Conscious of this, it is expected that Representative Lee will continue to reinforce the logic that his remarks in future trials also amount to subjective evaluations and opinions, just like President Yun's case.
On the other hand, it is also possible to accept the representative's argument that impromptu remarks made in an interview cannot be regarded as a "declaration of facts." Lee's side cites the Supreme Court's consensus ruling in July 2020 that saved Lee from a political crisis. At the time, the Supreme Court acquitted Lee of similar charges when he was governor of Gyeonggi Province in the past, given the nature of the televised debates, which involved impromptu answers. The idea is that even spontaneous speech, such as debates, is strictly punished for publishing false facts, which would unduly restrict constitutional freedom of election campaigning. But there are counterarguments. A typical argument is that due to the nature of the interview, which informs the content of the question in advance, it cannot be judged on the same line as the debate. Prosecutors are likely to highlight the intentionality by digging into the fact that Lee made not once, but several remarks that he did not know Kim, and that it was a scheduled interview rather than a discussion.
'Court Time' begins... Every other Friday trial, Yoo Dong-kyu's first witness
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In the upcoming trial, the prosecution has predicted that they will find out through evidence whether the overseas business trip where Lee played golf with Kim was a "formal official business trip" to the point that he could not remember the person he went with, and whether Kim was really just a junior employee. Some of the evidence at the first trial included forensic records that Kim's phone in 2009 contained the representative's contact information, and a video in which Kim boasted to his daughter that he played golf with then-Seongnam Mayor Lee Jae-myung while on an overseas business trip. The trial of this representative will be held every other Friday from now on. Following the trial and the prosecution's investigation, Yoo Dong-kyu, former head of the planning department of the Seongnam Urban Development Corporation, who has continued to expose through YouTube channels and others, will appear as the "first witness." This is the first time we have come face-to-face with Lee since the allegations of preferential treatment for the development of Daejang-dong surfaced. The next trial will take place next Friday (17). The "court time" has begun in earnest, and we will tell you in detail about the upcoming trial through the <Interview File>.