Paekdu Project Must Be Investigated

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Paekdu Project Must Be Investigated

Suspicions concerning Linda Kim's illegal lobbying for the 'Paekdu project' are snowballing. Eyebrows were raised when an "inappropriate relationship" between Korean-American Linda Kim and a high-ranking public official came to light. But now, as the procedures and the contents of the project are being revealed, problems in the Paekdu project itself are becoming the main concern.

The substance of the case is this. While the advanced weapons project was being initiated, who did the attractive lobbyist Linda Kim have an effect on, and what kind of results did she induce? The people concerned in the affair claim that the Paekdu project was not affected by the lobbying. They admit only that there was an "inappropriate relationship" between former National Defense Minister Lee Yang-ho and Linda Kim.

However, when considering the circumstatial evidence and indications from professionals, there is more than enough in doubt to stir suspicions of possible refractions of the Paekdu project by some lobbying activities. The United States' E System was chosen - despite the fact that it gave the highest bidding price. The weaponry chosen was adopted even though it had received the poorest scores from the examiners. And the fact that Linda Kim was in charge of lobbying for both, cannot be overlooked as simple coincidence. Also, the fact that equipment which had yet to be put through performance tests was chosen over approved equipment is also suspicious. Moreover, the contracts were made under the FMS (Foreign Military Sales) method which holds down the equipment under the United States' authority. It is also unprecedented for the Ministry of National Defense to make a decision in complete opposition to equipment and systems suggestions from the relevant military unit. When all these facts are considered, the claim that nothing untoward occurred except the affair between Linda Kim and the former minister, begins to look unpersuasive.

The Paekdu project aims to strengthen national defense in order to collect North Korea-related information independently. The project to introduce advanced weaponry must be considered in the light that $210 million was invested and that the Korean peninsula is still in a state of tension. With this in mind, it is deplorable that the project was carried out under such loose supervision.

This case is no longer about an affair between individuals and resulting scandals. A thorough investigation of the Paekdu project is essential to the nation. We need to find out what is wrong and fix it before it's too late. We cannot just evade an issue linked to the safety of the nation. A special governmental investigation should be put into operation as soon as possible. We must clarify events surrounding the project and produce a plan to prevent this from happening again.

The National Assembly must realize the seriousness of this matter and launch a parliamentary investigation in order to get to the bottom of the case. If politicians ignore the interests of the public, they are shirking their duties. We should go as far as putting the matter into the 16th National Assembly's hands and hesitate no longer in investigating the suspicions of the public.

by Kim Chang-gyu

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