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Cho scandal plagued by duelling interviews

Asset manager of minister’s wife talked to Rhyu Si-min, KBS
Oct 12,2019
Rhyu Si-min, a former liberal politician and host of the popular current affairs podcast “Alileo,” is embroiled in a tit for tat accusation battle with public broadcaster KBS over interviews they each had with the manager of the assets of Chung Kyung-sim, wife of embattled Justice Minister Cho Kuk.

Rhyu, 60, chair of the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation, is accusing the public broadcaster of distorting its interview with the asset manager last month to make it appear he was speaking ill of his client - and leaking the conversation to prosecutors before airing the report to sabotage the Cho family.

KBS adamantly refuted Rhyu’s account, saying it didn’t leak its interview and only contacted the prosecution for fact-checking.

The case goes back to Sept. 10 when KBS reporters interviewed Chung’s asset manager Kim Kyeong-rok, 37, a deputy director at Korea Investment & Securities.

Cho was appointed justice minister on Sept. 9.

On Sept. 11, KBS ran two news clips of Kim’s interview on its 9 p.m. prime-time news show, through which he was heard offering implications that Chung was directly involved in the management of Co-Link Private Equity (PE).

That directly contradicted comments from Cho, who said on Sept. 2 during a press conference that both he and his wife “did not know about [PE’s] organization and management,” so “therefore, were not involved” in running the company.

When a KBS reporter asked Kim, “Did [Chung] say the company was related to a relative? Did [she] say it was recommended by a relative?” Kim replied, “I think she said she was operating it. So I was a bit surprised by that part.”

Kim also implied in the KBS interview that PE was basically owned by the Cho family.

On Tuesday, Rhyu revealed excerpts of his own interview with Kim on his podcast show, saying their conversation was held five days earlier on Oct. 3.

In that show, Kim told Rhyu that on Sept. 10 - when he was summoned by prosecutors for questioning after his interview with KBS earlier that day - he saw a chat window in a program or app on a computer. The message read, “He had an interview with KBS. Minister Cho Kuk is said to have gone to [his] house so dig in.”

Rhyu accused KBS of leaking their interview with Kim to prosecutors and later said in a different podcast that Kim was misrepresented.

KBS immediately denied this and said in a statement that it “checked with the prosecution” before its reports were aired “to verify whether Kim’s testimony corresponded with factual evidence,” but “did not provide the contents of the interview to anyone inside the prosecution.”

On Wednesday, the JoongAng Ilbo exclusively reported excerpts of Rhyu’s interview with Kim that were edited out of the podcast, which included Kim’s comments that contradicted what Justice Minister Cho said in his parliamentary confirmation hearing on Sept. 6.

Rhyu released his full interview with Kim on Thursday, and KBS released its full interview as well on Friday.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, JEONG YONG-HWAN AND YOON SUNG-MIN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]