South Korean Lawmaker Sentenced to 18 Months of Prison over Misappropriation of Donations to Support Group for Former Comfort Women

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
South Korean lawmaker Yoon Mee-hyang denies allegations against her during a press conference in Seoul in May 2020.

SEOUL — The Seoul High Court on Wednesday sentenced South Korean lawmaker Yoon Mee-hyang to 18 months in prison for embezzling funds donated to a support group for former so-called comfort women.

The sentence, suspended for three years, raises the punishment of a fine handed down by a district court.

If the ruling is finalized, the 58-year-old Yoon will no longer be a lawmaker.

“I’m appealing the case and I will prove my innocence,” Yoon said to reporters after the ruling.

Yoon was the former head of the support group. She had been indicted on eight charges, including fraud and embezzlement.

In February, the district court found Yoon guilty of embezzling about 17 million won (about ¥1.9 million) in donations over the course of her time in charge of the group, but acquitted her of the remaining charges. The district court ordered Yoon to pay a fine of 15 million won.

The high court, however, found that Yoon had embezzled about 80 million won (about ¥9 million), while also finding her guilty of fraud by illegally receiving subsidies related to former comfort women. The Gender Equality and Family Ministry had provided these subsidies.