Opposition Leader Lee Jae-myung Faces Disciplinary Action as Lawyer Over Multiple Criminal Charges

Seoul, South Korea – Prosecutors are requesting the national bar association to consider disciplinary action against opposition leader Lee Jae-myung as a lawyer. They are citing multiple criminal charges that he is currently standing trial for. The application was filed on Dec. 14 with the Korean Bar Association, claiming that Lee’s dignity as a lawyer has been compromised due to these charges.

Lee, who is both the leader of the main opposition Democratic Party and a lawyer by profession, is facing indictment and trial for five different cases. Among these cases are corruption charges related to two real estate development projects that took place during his former term as the mayor of Seongnam, a city south of Seoul.

According to the Attorney-at-Law Act, lawyers are prohibited from engaging in any activity that damages their dignity. It also requires district prosecution office chiefs to file for disciplinary action against lawyers who are accused of violating the act. The bar association’s disciplinary committee has the authority to impose various penalties, ranging from a reprimand to permanent expulsion, which would result in the revocation of the lawyer’s license.

However, even if the committee initiates disciplinary procedures against Lee, the main review process is not expected to begin until final court rulings are made on his cases.

This request for disciplinary action against Lee comes as he recently faced a stabbing attack in the southeastern port city of Busan. On Jan. 10, 2024, he was discharged from the hospital and spoke to reporters about the incident.

The outcome of this request will have significant implications for Lee’s career as both a politician and a lawyer. If disciplinary action is taken against him, it could potentially result in the loss of his license to practice law. However, it is ultimately up to the bar association’s disciplinary committee to determine the appropriate penalties.

The charges against Lee and the potential disciplinary action have sparked discussions about integrity and ethics among lawyers and politicians in South Korea. Critics argue that such cases undermine public trust in the legal profession and emphasize the importance of upholding the highest standards of conduct.

As Lee continues to navigate the legal proceedings and political landscape, the final court rulings on his cases will ultimately play a decisive role in the disciplinary process.