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President Moon Jae-in's son disputes nepotism charges after winning arts grant

The son of South Korean President Moon Jae-in is engaged in a dispute with lawmaker Rep. Bae Hyun-jin of the main opposition People Power Party. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI
The son of South Korean President Moon Jae-in is engaged in a dispute with lawmaker Rep. Bae Hyun-jin of the main opposition People Power Party. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

June 22 (UPI) -- The artist-son of South Korean President Moon Jae-in is in the spotlight again for accepting an art grant from a publicly funded arts council.

Moon Joon-yong, 39, previously drew criticism for accepting nearly $13,000 in coronavirus relief from the city of Seoul. Moon recently was awarded and accepted an arts subsidy worth $61,000 from Arts Council Korea, Yonhap and JTBC reported Tuesday.

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South Korean lawmaker Rep. Bae Hyun-jin, of the main opposition People Power Party, said Tuesday that Moon had held a "face-to-face interview" with the selection committee including general managers and members of cultural foundations.

Bae suggested at a meeting of her party Tuesday that it is likely Moon's status influenced their decision.

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"The citizens of South Korea will raise doubts about whether [Moon] was judged fairly, without any pressure" from high-level officials, Bae said.

Moon previously has said he was selected for previous grants because of merit, and not because he is the president's son.

In a Facebook post Tuesday, Moon republished an online conversation he had with Bae. Moon had said in the conversation that Bae "would have eliminated" him in the selection process even if "he had talent."

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Bae allegedly had said "That's right" in response. The lawmaker also said Moon should make an appearance at a parliamentary audit to clear his name.

Moon said he is not above the law in response to Bae's allegation he is the beneficiary of state-backed nepotism.

"The son of the president is just another person who can be summoned to the National Assembly," Moon said. "The fact that a member of the National Assembly can call me to parliament without any basis is proof that I am not receiving special treatment."

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Bae said Moon was awarded the maximum amount of funds from the Arts Council.

Moon's public funding controversies first made headlines in the South in December, when he held a solo exhibition at Keumsan Gallery in Seoul using coronavirus relief money from the Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture. Moon has defended his decision to accept the funds.

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