South Korea's presidential office on Monday denied the notion that President Yoon Suk Yeol had sacked Kim Seung-hee, secretary to the president for protocol, in a hurried and preemptive manner to impede further truth-seeking.
Yoon's office said in a written statement the presidential office was unaware of the accusation involving Kim's daughter and his alleged intervention until it was revealed in a parliamentary probe on Friday. According to reports, Kim's 9-year-old daughter had physically harmed a younger schoolmate and he had allegedly tried to lessen the punishment by the school using his power as Yoon's aide.
The presidential office sacked Kim about seven hours after Rep. Kim Young-ho of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea took issue with the matter on Friday during a parliamentary probe into the Gyeonggi Province Office of Education.
"(Yoon's office) learned about the incident on the same day when it was revealed," the office said in a statement, adding the quick decision was designed to "eliminate the possibility that his status as a public figure could affect the investigation into the matter."
Yoon's office added that it did not communicate with the Gyeonggi Province Office of Education over the matter.
This came amid the opposition bloc's speculation that Yoon's office was aware of the situation and tried to prevent a further probe into the matter from developing to hide its own problems.
Rep. Kwon Chil-seung, a spokesperson of the Democratic Party, said Sunday that Yoon's dismissal of his beleaguered aide "grinds the probe to a halt" and "raises speculation that (Yoon's office) tries to hamper truth-seeking into a powerful figure's attempt to conceal a school bullying incident."
According to Rep. Kim, former protocol secretary Kim's daughter beat her schoolmate three times in a school bathroom in July to the extent that the victim required nine weeks of medical treatment.
The lawmaker argued that the perpetrator's mother implicitly revealed on her personal mobile messenger that her husband Kim was a presidential secretary, potentially influencing the school's decision earlier this month to not transfer their daughter to another school.