President's Granddaughter's Jacket Goes Viral

A padded duck-down jacket worn by the granddaughter of President Lee Myung-bak was the most-searched item on Internet search portals during the Lunar New Year's holidays.

A photo of Lee and his granddaughters visiting a traditional open-air market in Seoul showed her wearing the white ski jacket from luxury French brand Moncler. The girl is the daughter of Lee's second son in law, Seoul National University medical professor Choi Eui-keun.

One website reported that an adult version of the jacket costs W3 million (US$1=W1,134). The photo and the article spread through the Internet at lightning speed with tags like "the true face of the regime that represents the top 1 percent." Some netizens criticized the claims, saying the coat costs just W210,000 on some overseas Internet shopping sites.

When some bloggers posted a photo of former President Roh Moo-hyun's granddaughter wearing plain summer sandals and compared the picture with Lee's granddaughter, others countered by posting a photo of Roh's granddaughter in Burberry, saying the British brand is more expensive than Moncler.

Politicians joined in the fray. Kim Yoo-jung, a spokeswoman for the main opposition Democratic Unity Party, said, "Regardless of the price of the luxury jacket worn by the president’s granddaughter, the controversy which broke out at the start of the Lunar New Year's holidays has left an indelible scar on working-class Koreans. It is a vivid reminder that buying some snacks and meeting vendors as a friendly gesture to the lower class do not change the true face of a regime that represents only the top 1 percent of the wealthy."

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