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Pastor in luxury bag scandal booked for defamation, illegal electioneering

June 17, 2024 - 10:22 By Yonhap
Korean American pastor Choi Jae-young (center) appears before police for questioning on charges related to the luxury gift case involving the first lady on Thursday. (Yonhap)

A Korean American pastor at the center of a luxury bag scandal involving first lady Kim Keon Hee has been under a police investigation on charges of defaming a ruling party lawmaker and engaging in illegal electioneering ahead of April's general elections, officials said Monday.

The pastor, named Choi Jae-young, has been booked for investigation for allegedly defaming Rep. Lee Chul-gyu of the ruling People Power Party by mentioning Lee and the first lady together during a lecture in March, according to the Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police.

The lawmaker has since filed a defamation complaint with police.

Choi is also accused of making remarks supportive of a candidate of the main opposition Democratic Party during a lecture in February in violation of a law that bans pastors and other religious professionals from using their status for election campaigns.

Further details were not available.

The luxury bag scandal has dealt a blow to President Yoon Suk Yeol since a video surfaced last year of the first lady receiving the Dior handbag, valued at around 3 million won ($2,200), from Choi armed with a hidden camera in September 2022. (Yonhap)