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South Korea Blue House raided after 'suicide' case

By Elizabeth Shim
South Korea Blue House raided after 'suicide' case
On Wednesday presidential Blue House spokeswoman Ko Min-jung told reporters a South Korean inspector who died had “nothing to do” with a controversial report. File Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE

Dec. 4 (UPI) -- South Korea's presidential Blue House said state prosecutors were permitted to search and seize documents from the office as part of investigations into the former vice mayor of Busan, the country's second-largest city.

The raid is being made public a few days after an ex-Blue House aide died, reportedly by suicide; the former inspector was a member of a special investigation team headed by Baek Won-woo, a former presidential secretary for civil affairs, Yonhap reported Wednesday.

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Baek is under a separate investigation for allegedly tipping police regarding rival politicians in opposition parties in order to influence 2018 local elections, according to the report.

On Wednesday presidential Blue House spokeswoman Ko Min-jung told reporters the deceased inspector had "nothing to do" with a controversial report that shows possible evidence the Blue House was playing a role in investigating the aides of Kim Gi-hyeon, the mayor of Ulsan, a politician of an opposition party, MBC reported.

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The report was created by a "government worker dispatched to the Blue House" and was based on a conversation that took place through text messages in October 2017, Ko said. The information on Kim was from a source the government worker "met while camping," local news service News 1 reported.

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The raid on Wednesday is also targeting Cho Kuk, the former justice minister who resigned over family-related corruption allegations. Cho was the top presidential secretary for civil affairs and a colleague of Baek's at the Blue House.

South Korean prosecutors have previously raided the Blue House in the course of the administration of President Moon Jae-in, who assumed office in 2017.

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In December 2018, prosecutors raided the presidential office after aides were suspected of eavesdropping on South Korean citizens, according to Yonhap.

Previous South Korean presidents have denied prosecutors access to the Blue House. Former President Park Geun-hye rejected prosecutors in 2017 following allegations of corruption, the report says.

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