Gyeonggi governor faces worst crisis of political career

August 20, 2014

Gyeonggi Province Governor Nam Kyung-pil was hailed as a presidential candidate after the June 4 election. Just two months later, he is facing his biggest professional and personal challenges since he entered politics 17 years ago.

Gyeonggi Governor Nam Kyung-pil looks in deep thought during his participation in the Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise at Yangju Culture and Art Center in Yangju, Gyeonggi Province, Tuesday. (Yonhap)

Gyeonggi Governor Nam Kyung-pil looks in deep thought during his participation in the Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise at Yangju Culture and Art Center in Yangju, Gyeonggi Province, Tuesday. (Yonhap)

On Wednesday, it was learned that he and his wife finalized a divorce last week, although precisely why the couple decided to split is not known.

However, commentators in local vernacular dailies speculate that the governor and his wife came into conflict over a heavy financial loss she incurred after investing in an education-related business.

Looking back, when he delivered his victory speech after being elected Gyeonggi Province governor, his wife was nowhere to be seen. This was in stark contrast to previous elections when he had been accompanied by family members at any significant event.

The two married in 1989 and have two sons.

After media reports and commentaries increased, Nam canceled his daily schedule and has even severed contact with his secretaries.

“At the moment, he has no plan to clarify media reports because divorce is a personal matter,” said one of his aides.

The reports of his broken marriage came amid mounting controversy surrounding his eldest son, a 23-year-old Army corporal, who allegedly hit a 21-year-old private first-class on the chin and in the stomach for not fulfilling his duties and training adequately.

He is also alleged to have rubbed his penis against the hips of another private first-class aged 19, and tapped on the younger man’s penis.

All the soldiers belong to the Army’s 6th Division based in Pocheon, Gyeonggi Province.

The allegations against Nam’s son were made public Sunday and have come under close scrutiny because of the death of an Army private first-class, surnamed Yoon, in April, after a month of physical, verbal and mental abuse from five other servicemen.

The military prosecution is again seeking an arrest warrant for Nam’s son after a court rejected a request Tuesday.

Prior to these recent pressures, the career of the heavyweight politician proceeded for 17 years without major problems. The 49-year-old has been generally regarded as a successful politician and a reform-minded member of the ruling Saenuri Party.

Before the June poll, he had been a five-term lawmaker representing the Suwon-C district in Gyeonggi Province. Before him, his late father Nam Pyeong-woo served the preceding two terms in the constituency.

Nam has shown keen attention to Japan’s denial of its past wrongdoings during World War II, and has called for the government of the neighboring nation to correct erroneous historical claims.

However, the mounting personal problems within his family have pushed him into a corner.

 

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