Independence Fighters Association chief to resign over allegations of embezzlement
SEOUL, 16 Feb. (Yonhap) — The head of a state-funded association of national independence fighters and their descendants offered to step down on Wednesday amid growing calls for his resignation over allegations of embezzlement. .
The departure of Kim Won-wung, head of the Heritage of Independence Korea (HKI) who has long faced political and ideological controversies over whether he is suitable for the job, comes less than a week after the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs. published the results of an audit accusing him of embezzling part of the profits from an HKI café held at the National Assembly.
“I bow and apologize for hurting the pride of the (HKI) members and doing a disservice to the HKI,” Kim said in a statement sent to Yonhap News Agency. “Such a mishap happened because I was not able to manage the staff and did not supervise (the cafe) properly.”
His remarks appear to be a repeat of his earlier claims that the embezzlement allegations were fabricated by a former HKI employee who had himself been suspected of corruption within the association.
In its audit findings released last Thursday, the Ministry of Patriots said a slush fund worth 61 million won ($50,960) was created from coffee proceeds, and about 10 million won from the fund was transferred to Kim’s personal account. The cafe was established in 2020 to fund scholarships for descendants of national independence fighters.
Kim called the findings a “one-sided claim” and “libel.”
On Friday, the association is to convene an extraordinary plenary session which is expected to discuss its continued leadership.
Kim, a former three-term lawmaker, took office in June 2019.