| 8 December 2023, Friday |

South Korea opposition leader ends 24-day hunger strike

A 24-day hunger strike by South Korea’s opposition leader ended on Saturday, according to a party official, two days after parliament decided to allow prosecutors to issue an arrest warrant against him for alleged bribery.

While hospitalized, Lee Jae-myung, head of the Democratic Party of Korea, will follow a schedule that includes court appearances, according to the spokesman.

Prosecutors this month sought the warrant in an investigation into bribery allegations concerning a development project. Prosecutors accuse Lee of asking a company to illegally transfer $8 million to North Korea when he was the governor of Gyeonggi Province.

He is also accused of breaching his duty over losses of 20 billion won ($15 million) by a municipal development corporation when he was mayor of Seongnam city.

Lee, who lost South Korea’s presidential election to conservative Yoon Suk Yeol last year, has denied wrongdoing, calling the allegations “fiction” and a “political conspiracy”.

He began his protest on Aug. 31, citing the government’s economic mismanagement, threats to media freedom and the failure to oppose Japan’s release of wastewater from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, among other reasons.

Thursday’s surprise vote by parliament, controlled by Lee’s party, has caused an uproar among his supporters.

Police on Saturday detained a man in his 40s who had posted the names of more than a dozen lawmakers outside Lee’s party faction, writing “gotta search for the sniper rifle at home”, said an official with the Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police. Police will seek an arrest warrant against him for intimidation, the official said.

South Korea is to hold parliamentary elections in April.

  • Reuters