The Lady Dior handbag, priced at approximately $2,000, is at the center of a political scandal in South Korea that could have far-reaching consequences for the country’s leader, President Yoon Suk Yeol. The controversy stems from hidden camera footage that purportedly shows the first lady, Kim Keon Hee, accepting the luxury item as a gift.
The video, filmed in secret by a Korean American pastor, the Rev. Choi Jae Young, during a September 2022 visit, was initially released by a left-wing YouTube news channel in November. Recently, the footage has resurfaced, intensifying the political landscape in South Korea.
The first lady is seen accepting a blue-gray purse worth 3 million won ($2,250) from Pastor Choi, who advocates for friendlier relations with North Korea, a stance conflicting with President Yoon’s hard-line approach. The incident has triggered public outrage, leading to mounting pressure on President Yoon and his right-wing People Power Party (PPP) ahead of crucial legislative elections.
Han Dong-hoon, a leading member of Yoon’s PPP, has joined calls for addressing public concerns, while the floor leader of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) has urged prosecutors to launch a formal probe into the allegations.
The controversy poses a significant threat to President Yoon’s standing and his legislative agenda, with polls indicating a rise in disapproval ratings and widespread public support for an explanation from Yoon. Despite the president’s office asserting that the incident was a deliberate trap, the public remains dissatisfied, emphasizing the visual evidence of the first lady accepting the luxury bag.
Pastor Choi, in defense of his actions, stated that he sought evidence to expose the First Lady’s alleged abuse of power in government appointments, not specifically focusing on the Dior bag incident. However, these claims have not been independently verified by NBC News.
Yoon’s supporters argue that the context is crucial, emphasizing the pastor’s role in setting up the trap with a spy camera and asserting the need for a detailed explanation to address public concerns.
This controversy is not the first time the First Lady has been embroiled in scandal. The opposition-controlled parliament previously initiated an investigation into her alleged involvement in stock market manipulation from 12 years ago.
She issued a public apology for accusations of plagiarism in her doctoral thesis and falsification of professional experience. The cumulative impact of these controversies may have lasting consequences for President Yoon’s political standing and the upcoming elections.