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South Korea’s Yoon defends wife over Dior handbag scandal, rejects China policy concerns in rare interview

In a rare interview, the normally media-shy Yoon said first lady Kim Keon-hee was in effect a victim of politically motivated entrapment aimed at hurting the couple’s reputation ahead of crucial parliamentary elections set for April.

The gift giver, Pastor Choi Jae-young, said he had decided to film the interaction to collect evidence of Kim’s supposed corruption after witnessing her talking on the phone to an unknown person to discuss personnel appointments to key government posts, such as the country’s financial watchdog, earlier in 2022.

The two are acquainted, with long-standing ties between their families. Choi is a pro-unification activist who has occasionally visited the North for humanitarian activities and proselytisation.

He used a hidden camera embedded in a watch to capture the footage, which also showed other visitors holding what appeared to be gifts and waiting for their turn to see the first lady.

The interview with Yoon was filmed on Sunday and aired on Wednesday night by the state-financed broadcaster KBS.

“After Pastor Choi repeatedly insisted on visiting her, she was unable to cold-heartedly reject him. That was somewhat a problem, if one can call it a problem, and it is a bit regrettable,” Yoon said, blinking rapidly.

Asked if he and Kim had fought over the handbag issue, Yoon replied with a laugh: “Not at all.”

The liberal opposition Democratic Party of Korea lambasted Yoon for “betraying” people’s expectations that he would apologise, accusing him of being “shameless” and “arrogant” in making “far-fetched” assertions to defend his wife.

A spokesman for the presidential office earlier told local media that gifts received by Yoon and his wife belonged to the state and were automatically put in storage, hence