Presidential frontrunner Lee Myung-bak faces increasing attacks from
his political opponents following his admission on Saturday to
registering fake home addresses.
Lee, a Grand National Party member, confessed that he registered fake
residences five times in around 1980 so that all of his four children
would be eligible for entry into prestigious elementary and junior high
He apologized to the public for his past misconduct, but he denied
accusations that he registered false addresses for property speculation
Suspicions were mounting over Lee's alleged speculative real estate
investing after Kim Hyuk-kyu, a presidential hopeful in the Uri Party,
revealed last week that Lee's wife changed addresses 15 times in nearly
30 years, mostly in the affluent Gangnam area.
Registering a fake address is a common tactic in real estate
speculation in Korea. Real estate speculation is a sensitive issue in a
nation where ordinary citizens are burdened with exorbitant home
The Uri Party and Park Geun-hye, his archrival in the GNP, formed a
united front against Lee yesterday over his fake address registrations.
They said his explanation falls short of clearing up suspicion of his alleged land speculation.
They noted that private elementary schools choose students
through a lottery system regardless of where they live in the school
districts. "Lee's clarification could be no more than a lie," Uri
spokesperson Suh Hae-suk said.
Rep. Choi Kyung-hwan, a Park aide, also said, "As a public figure, he has to completely resolve the suspicions."
They also said that Lee is not qualified to become the nation's
president because of his "illegal" acts. Previous nominees for public
office failed to win their positions due to suspicions of land
"Our society has required very strict ethical standards for candidates
for public office. It is natural that higher morality is required for
presidential candidates," Suh said.
Lee has seen his approval ratings inch down recently amid a series of
accusations from his political opponents concerning his accumulation of
wealth and his campaign pledges.
In the 1997 and 2002 presidential elections, accusations against then
frontrunner Lee Hoi-chang over his son's alleged draft-dodging
undermined his chances of winning the close race.
Recent polls found the gap in public support between Lee and
Park narrowing. According to a June 14 poll by the Korea Research
Center and the Donga Ilbo, Lee and Park garnered 38.5 percent and 25.5
percent in approval ratings, respectively. The margin between the two
shrunk to 13 percentage points from 23.6 percentage points in late May,
according to the poll. A couple of polls even showed a single-digit gap
between the two rivals.
The pair has engaged in a bitter competition to win the GNP's
nomination to run in the December presidential election. The GNP's
primary race takes place on Aug. 19.
By Jin Hyun-joo