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Politics

Top Moon aide offers to resign over bribery scandal

Allegations could hurt South Korean leader's anti-corruption campaign

Jun Byung-hun, South Korea's senior presidential secretary for political affairs, spoke with reporters Thursday regarding the bribery scandal.

SEOUL -- A top aide to South Korean President Moon Jae-in offered to resign on Thursday after his subordinates were arrested on embezzlement charges, dealing a heavy blow to the president's campaign against improprieties committed by the past two conservative administrations.

Jun Byung-hun, Moon's senior secretary for political affairs, apologized for the acts of his former assistants, who were apprehended on Wednesday night, and for causing causing trouble for Moon. Jun denied his own involvement in the scheme, but prosecutors are expected to investigate him as well.

His resignation would mark the second by a high-ranking aide since Moon took office in May, according to the Yonhap News Agency. Kim Ki-jung, the second vice chief of the National Security Office, stepped down in June amid allegations of sexual harassment.

Jun was formerly a lawmaker with the ruling Democratic Party of Korea and a key member of the committee on broadcasting. In 2015, his aides allegedly pressured a local home shopping channel to pay 300 million won ($272,000 at current rates) to the Korea e-Sports Association, which was then headed by Jun. Part of that money is believed to have been used as political funds for Jun.

Moon has taken a tough stance on similar misconduct tied to the last two conservative administrations and to South Korea's family-owned conglomerates, or chaebols. Impeached President Park Geun-hye in particular is suspected of receiving bribes through cultural and sports organizations. The allegations against Jun, if proven true, would show that the same vices he has denounced  can be found inside his own administration as well.

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