Song Young-gil, a former leader of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP), presented himself before prosecutors Tuesday for voluntary questioning about an election bribery scandal rocking the party, but prosecutors turned him away, citing scheduling issues.
Song has been under fire from in and outside of the DP over the scandal centering on allegations that his campaign officials distributed cash envelopes totaling 94 million won (US$70,245) to 10-20 DP lawmakers and other party members in the runup to the party's national convention in May 2021.
Song won party chairmanship at the convention.
Song returned home last week from Paris, where he was a visiting professor at the ESCP Business School, and has since offered to voluntarily appear before prosecutors to undergo questioning, although he denies the allegations.
On Tuesday, Song showed up at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office and attempted to enter an investigation room, but prosecutors turned him back at the lobby.
Prosecutors said questioning of Song has yet to be scheduled.
"I ask prosecutors to stop pestering people around me and instead arrest me," Song said in a press conference outside of the prosecution office building.
Prosecutors have previously raided the homes and offices of Reps. Youn Kwan-suk and Lee Sung-man for alleged involvement in the scandal, while Kang Rae-gu, a DP official close to Song, has been questioned on charges of illegally raising 80 million won of the money allegedly distributed.
"Once again, I am very sorry for the bribery scandal involving the DP national convention two years ago," he said, adding, "I am solely responsible for everything."
Song accused the prosecution of a "politically orchestrated" investigation targeting him, claiming it cannot win back public opinion soured by the Yoon Suk Yeol government's "humiliating diplomacy" with the United States and Japan, and incompetent economic policies.
Prosecutors suspect Song may have directed or at least been aware of the alleged bribery, and plan to bring him in for questioning after investigating his campaign officials further.
Source: Yonhap News Agency