Report: South Korean president made large, unrefunded donation to left-wing newspaper

by WorldTribune Staff, January 29, 2019

South Korean President Moon Jae-In was among a group of investors who made large donations in the 1980s to establish the left-wing Hankyoreh Media Group, a report said.

Moon gave 200 million won ($552,000 in 2019 dollars) to the media group, which established the far-left Hankyoreh newspaper in 1987, according to a Jan. 28 report by East Asia Research Center.

Moon Jae-In, right rear with glasses wearing Hankyoreh ribbon and leaning back.

The report also noted that Moon was the only one of the original investment group to not be refunded his donation.

Moon “purposely did not get the money back, the only one to refuse to take back the money,” the report said.

According to a company brochure, the newspaper’s audience is people in their 40s to 50s, but also “younger generation, including college students, who will grow to have influence on the society.”

Related: South Korea white paper removes North Korea as ‘enemy’, Jan. 22, 2019

The report said: “In the late 1980s, when Hankyoreh, centered around dismissed journalists from Donga Ilbo andChosun Ilbo, started to raise funds to start a newspaper, [Moon] gave 200,000,000 won without any hesitation.  But at the time, Moon Jae-In, then a lawyer, was not in a position to readily give the 200,000,000 won.  He didn’t have that much money, living in an apartment with 2,000,000 won ($5,520) ‘Jeonse’ [refundable down payment, no monthly rent]. But Moon was determined to make a good press and obtained a loan to make the generous contribution. Thanks to Moon and 20,000 investors, Hankyoreh newspaper raised 5,000,000,000 won ($13.8 million) and printed 500,000 initial copies.”

Song In-Bae, Moon’s longtime associate and current chief personal secretary, was quoted in the report as saying: “Hankyoreh started to return the money to everyone, but there is one person to whom the money was not returned, and that is Moon Jae-In…Hankyoreh wants to return the money, but he still refused to accept.”

Song also stated that Moon gave the money in order for Hankyoreh to establish a branch in Busan, where Moon and Rho Moo-Hyun had their law office and were active politically. Rho, South Korea’s president from 2003-2008, died in 2009.

On April 9, 2017 when Moon was a presidential candidate, he said to a Hankoyreh journalist: “I think Hankyoreh has love for me and my party. I hope you remember that I’m a founding member of Hankyoreh.”

Meanwhile, South Korea’s government headed currently by Moon said it hopes the upcoming second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong-Un will be followed by Kim’s first visit to Seoul.

“After the second North Korea-U.S. summit is held, I think it’ll be a little easier to arrange Chairman Kim’s visit to Seoul. In order to build a virtuous cycle in inter-Korean relations, I think that Chairman Kim and I will need to sit down together, in one form or another, after the summit takes place to discuss its outcome and its impact on developing inter-Korean relations,” Moon Jae-In said during his New Year’s press conference on Jan. 10.


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