South Korean Development Scandal Whistleblower Found Dead

The first person to blow the whistle on presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung’s alleged payment of legal fees by proxy in 2018 was found dead on Wednesday.

Police said lawyer Lee Byung-chul was found dead on Tuesday at a motel in Yancheon-gu, western Seoul, after being reported missing three days earlier. 

Media reports said there were no signs of violence or evidence of other crimes at the scene. 

Lee Byung-chul’s death, the third reported death related to the scandal involving Lee Jae-myung, raised calls for exhaustive investigations from the opposition bloc.

According to reports, Lee Byung-chul was the first person to provide information to a civic group about Lee Jae-myung’s defense attorney receiving 300 million won ($252,000) in cash and 2 billion won ($1.7m) in stocks that could be sold three years later. 

Last year, two officials related to the Daejang-dong land development scandal were found dead.

People’s Party presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo openly attacked Lee Jae-myung, saying that those linked to allegations against him have been “silenced with death.”

“People who held keys to corruption scandals, including the Daejang-dong corruption scandal, have been silenced with death,“ Ahn said.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party of Korea denied all allegations made against Lee Jae-myung concerning the death of Lee Byung-chul, saying its candidate has no relationship with the deceased lawyer by any means. 

“We ask any political attacks to be refrained from until exact details of the case are revealed,” the Democratic Party of Korea’s press team said.

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