Dior: a bag that disrupts geopolitics in Northeast Asia

The reception of a luxury handbag by South Korean First Lady Kim Keon Hee is shaking up the political landscape in Northeast Asia. Images showing a pastor offering a Dior bag have sparked controversy over possible violations of the country’s anti-corruption law. These events come amid investigations and controversies surrounding the First Lady, fueling tensions ahead of legislative elections in South Korea and potentially disrupting the geopolitics of the region.


The Lady Dior, originally a gift from Bernadette Chirac to Lady Diana, once again finds itself at the highest echelons of the state, this time in South Korea. The wife of South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, Kim Keon Hee, is once again embroiled in a political scandal. A video, aired last November, shows Korean-American pastor Choi Jae-young offering a sky-blue Lady Dior handbag to the South Korean First Lady. Choi Jae-young, a staunch advocate for closer ties between South Korea and North Korea, had managed to meet Kim in person as he was a friend of the First Lady’s father.


The images, dating back to September 2022, were broadcast in November 2023 by Voice of Seoul, a left-leaning YouTube channel known for its critical stance towards the Yoon administration. Although the video does not explicitly show her accepting it, a Dior shopping bag worth three million won ($3,400) can be seen on a nearby coffee table.



The footage also showed Kim making a phone call with an unidentified person, indicating that she was apparently interfering in the promotion process of government officials. Choi, who advocates for Seoul’s engagement with Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, claimed to have witnessed Kim abusing her power by intervening in government appointments.


Legal Framework Requirements


The law on solicitation and corruption, commonly known as the “anti-corruption law” or “Kim Young-ran law,” came into effect for the first time on September 28, 2016. Other countries have enacted similar laws, such as Japan, Vietnam, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, and China, with a significant impact on luxury goods since 2013.


This law prohibits public officials and their spouses from receiving gifts exceeding one million won ($1,160) in connection with their official duties. Under this law, a public official could face up to three years in prison or a fine of 30 million won ($22,515) if their spouse is caught receiving a gift worth more than one million won, even if no favor was given or sought in return. Voice of Seoul accused the First Lady in December of violating this law.


“It is known that corruption has historically been endemic in South Korea,” explains Leonid Petrov, an expert in Korean studies at the Australian National University. “In democratic South Korea, not only the actions of the leaders but also those of their family members are closely monitored.”


New Scandal


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Featured photo : © Wire Images

Picture of Hugues Reydellet
Hugues Reydellet
Hugues Reydellet is a young and passionate journalist whose favorite subjects are economy, culture, gastronomy, but also cars, and sports. With a sharp pen and an insatiable curiosity, Hugues is constantly on the lookout for new hot information to report.

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