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S. Korea opposition leader hospitalised after hunger strike, prosecutors seek arrest

FILE PHOTO: Upcoming presidential election in South Korea

By Soo-hyang Choi

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's main opposition leader was hospitalised on Monday, days into a hunger strike in protest against government policies, while prosecutors sought an arrest warrant for him over corruption allegations.

Lee Jae-myung, leader of the Democratic Party of Korea, began the protest on Aug. 31, citing the government's economic mismanagement, threats to media freedom and the failure to oppose the Fukushima wastewaster release, among other reasons.

The former presidential candidate was transferred to a hospital from the National Assembly in Seoul Monday morning after suffering from dehydration and dizziness, his party said.

Kim Gi-hyeon, the head of the ruling People Power Party, has urged Lee to stop fasting, saying he was ready to talk with the opposition leader on policy issues.

Hours after Lee was transferred to a hospital, prosecutors said they had requested an arrest warrant for him as part of an investigation into a development project and bribery allegations.

Lee is accused of being in breach of his duty over losses of 20 billion won ($15 million) run up by Seongnam Development Corporation during his time as mayor of Seongnam city, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors also accused Lee of bribery in connection with a company suspected of $8 million in illegal money transfers to North Korea.

Lee has denied any wrongdoing, calling the allegations "fiction" and a "political conspiracy."

A Seoul court needs the 300-member parliament, where the Democrats hold a majority, to waive Lee's immunity from arrest to review the prosecution's request.

Parliament rejected their previous request for an arrest warrant in February.

Lee lost to President Yoon Suk Yeol, a former prosecutor-general, in the 2022 presidential election by a margin of 0.7%.

($1 = 1,327.4000 won)

(Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi and Hyonhee Shin. Editing by Gerry Doyle)