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SEOUL, May 30 (Yonhap) -- Police attempted to raid the headquarters of MBC TV on Tuesday in connection with an investigation into the alleged leak of personal information of Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon, sparking a two-hour standoff with unionized reporters.
Investigators are looking into allegations that an MBC reporter, surnamed Lim, was involved in the leak of Han's personal information, such as copies of the residence registration document and real estate contracts.
Unionized MBC workers blocked the investigators, holding banners denouncing the investigation as oppression of the press. They held banners reading "Turn back! It's unfair control of broadcasting" or "The beginning of the Yoon Suk Yeol government's oppression of MBC."
With assistance from the company, police investigators succeeded in reaching Lim's desk inside the building in western Seoul but decided not to execute a search warrant, concluding nothing was subject to seizure.
Earlier in the day, investigators from the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency raided Lim's home as well as the National Assembly Secretariat, and seized evidence, including Lim's mobile phone.
The investigation began after a member of Seoul's Gangseo Ward Council filed a complaint accusing a person of violating the Personal Information Protection Act after that person handed him information on Han and his family, which included copies of their residence registration document and real estate contracts.
Police suspect the information was leaked after being submitted to the National Assembly for Han's confirmation hearing last year and are looking into Lim's alleged involvement in the leak.
Lim previously drew attention for a report on President Yoon Suk Yeol's hot mic moment during his visit to New York in September, which was subtitled to make it appear that the president used vulgar language to talk about U.S. lawmakers and President Joe Biden.
The main opposition Democratic Party's press freedom committee denounced the raid into the MBC headquarters as clear oppression of the press and a retaliation for a report "that made the government uncomfortable."
Justice Minister Han defended the police search, telling reporters before a meeting of the Supreme Court judge recommendation committee, "Leaking or abusing someone else's personal information for the purpose of harassing him should not take place."