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South Korean President Yoon Set to Speak on Dior Bag Uproar

(Bloomberg) -- South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol is set to address questions in a TV interview over whether the first lady inappropriately received a designer bag, trying to stem public anger over the incident that has hit voter sentiment.

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KBS said it would broadcast its pre-recorded interview with Yoon on Wednesday from 10 p.m. to 11:40 p.m. local time. The interview was conducted over the weekend and the president is expected to address issues that include the government’s plan for 2024 and matters related to the first lady.

Read more: The Dior Bag Uproar Shaking South Korean Politics: QuickTake

The president has yet to speak publicly about a video released that appeared to show his wife Kim Keon Hee receiving a Christian Dior bag valued at about $2,200 from a Korean-American pastor in September 2022. The video was shot with a hidden camera and released on the YouTube channel of a liberal political group.

The support rate for Yoon fell to its lowest level since April in the latest weekly tracking poll from Gallup Korea amid simmering questions over the incident. A separate poll conducted on Jan. 21-22 by cable TV channel YTN showed that almost 70% of respondents thought Yoon needed to address the issue.

Read more: South Korean President Sees Support Slide After Dior Bag Uproar

The incident has cast a shadow over the president as his conservative People Power Party is trying to wrest control of parliament in an April election, which is shaping up to be a tight race.

The Gallup Poll released last Friday also showed the support rate for PPP fell to 34% from 36% from the week before, with the rate for the main opposition Democratic Party unchanged at 35%. The Democratic Party is focusing on the first lady and has used its majority in parliament to push through a measure in December calling for a special investigation into allegations of stock manipulation. Yoon vetoed the bill and his wife has denied any wrongdoing.

South Korean presidents serve a single five-year term, and the April election will determine whether Yoon can push through his agenda or if he’ll continue to face gridlock in the body for the three years left in office.

If the PPP seizes control of parliament from the opposition, it is likely to push through economic policies that include taking on powerful labor unions, reducing regulations on businesses, and tax cuts for companies and on real estate transactions.

--With assistance from Shinhye Kang.

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