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Opposition accuses first lady of 'playing Audrey Hepburn'

Nov. 14, 2022 - 18:59 By Lim Jae-seong
First lady Kim Keon-hee holds a child on her lap in her visit to his home in Phnom pen, Cambodia on Saturday. (Yonhap)

First lady Kim Keon-hee is once again drawing fire from the opposition bloc this time over her activities in Cambodia, where she accompanied President Yoon Suk-yeol for the ASEAN meeting.

During her trip, she declined to attend a cultural event arranged by the Cambodian government for the spouses of attending state leaders. Instead, she visited a young heart patient at a hospital as well as at the patient’s home.

Her actions were made public through a series of photographs, which opposition bloc says were too staged. In the photos released by the Presidential Office, the first lady is seen carrying the child in her arms or holding him on her lap.

“She made her way to a patient’s house to play an ‘Audrey Hepburn’ instead of attending an official event for summits’ spouses, wearing a Jaqueline Kennedy-like sleeveless dress,” Former Chief of National Intelligence Service Park Ji-won said on a local radio broadcasting on Monday morning.

“It is improper of her to deny an official schedule for presidents’ spouses in the diplomatic scene,” former lawmaker from the Democratic Party of Korea Kim Jin-ae also criticized. “She is a public figure, not just a celebrity,” she added.

The ruling People Power Party, for its part, hit back at the opposition citing former First lady Kim Jung-sook’s Taj Mahal tour during former President Moon Jae-in’s visit to India in 2018.

"It is absurd they only praise what Kim Jung-sook did while taking fault in what Kim Keon-hee does," Rep. Kim Ki-hyeon said on Facebook.

“A First lady who comes together with neighbors in difficulty, doing good like Audrey Hepburn, is a thousand times better than a ‘Tourist first lady,’” he added.