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Oceans minister nominee comes under fire for wife's alleged smuggling of porcelain ware

16:38 May 04, 2021

SEOUL, May 4 (Yonhap) -- Oceans Minister nominee Park Jun-young came under fire for his wife's alleged smuggling of porcelain ware during a parliamentary confirmation hearing on Tuesday.

Rep. Kim Sun-gyo of the main opposition People Power Party took a swipe at the nominee during the parliamentary session over the allegations of possible tariff evasion.

Kim first raised the allegations last week, suggesting that Park's wife bought a heap of porcelain teaware, plates and ornaments in Britain while the nominee was serving as a minister counselor at the South Korean Embassy in London from 2015-2018.

The lawmaker argued that the porcelain ware, "worth tens of thousands of dollars at least," were brought back to South Korea without a customs declaration and partly sold to customers at a cafe in Gyeonggi Province, which his wife opened last year.

Oceans Minister nominee Park Jun-young responds to a lawmaker's question during a confirmation hearing at the National Assembly in Seoul on May 4, 2021. (Yonhap)

As the issue took the center stage at the confirmation hearing, the nominee apologized and pledged to comply with any decision by customs authorities on the matter.

"I once again give my apology. I am sorry that a shameful thing like this took place," Park said during the hearing.

"Currently, (I am) in discussion with the Korea Customs Service on how to settle a problem like this ... I will accept any decision (the customs authorities) make and live up to it unconditionally," the nominee said.

But he denied having any intention to evade customs, saying his wife purchased the porcelain ware merely as a hobby.

Kim, however, refuted the nominee's claim, pointing out that the images of the porcelain ware, posted on an Instagram account by the nominee's wife, look as if they are "a haul of treasures from a wrecked ship," rather than housewares.

Formerly a deputy minister at the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, Park was tapped as the new oceans minister in a reshuffle last month.

This image provided by Rep. Kim Sun-gyo of the main opposition People Power Party shows a photo of porcelain ware, which was shared online by the wife of Oceans Minister nominee Park Jung-young. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

pbr@yna.co.kr
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