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South Korea’s controversy prone first lady Kim Keon-hee keeps a low profile ahead of parliamentary polls

Still, the unprecedented absence from public view of his wife, Kim Keon-hee, after the couple returned from a visit to the Netherlands on December 15, is seen by analysts as a political decision to shield the party from any negative comment.

“Since the first lady is not portraying positive images to the public, for her to remain quiet during this time might actually help [Yoon’s party in] the election,” said Shin Yul, a political-science professor at Myongji University in Seoul.

“If she re-emerges, it could be problematic, not just because of the scandals themselves, but her unfavourable image before the public.”

The president’s office did not comment.

“After one issue ended, another arose,” said Kang Hyun-sook, a 65-year-old resident of the capital. “It was a pattern for her. Then for the last four months, it has been quiet as she disappeared from the public eye.”


South Korean president Yoon defends wife over Dior bag scandal

Still, Kim has been a drag on Yoon’s popularity, which dipped to 36.3 per cent in a survey of 2,509 people published on Monday by pollster Realmeter, from a recent high of 41.9 per cent.

The PPP was trailing the Democratic Party, at 35.4 per cent to 43.1 per cent.

“This has gone too far,” said another Seoul resident, Park Chae-woon, 20, referring to the controversy around Kim.

“I believe she should not hide, but confront the issues, either by making an apology or taking responsibility on the matters.”

North Korea launched what appeared to be an intermediate-range ballistic missile from Pyongyang at 6:53am on Tuesday, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a message sent to reporters. The missile landed outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone, Japan’s Ministry of Defence said in a statement.