[EDITORIALS]Does money grow on trees?

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[EDITORIALS]Does money grow on trees?

"I didn't know it was 100 million won ($84,000)." That was President Kim Dae-jung's middle son, Kim Hong-up, responding to the prosecution's question whether he knew of the source of that amount in cash, which he was spending every month with his cronies on miscellaneous expenses. The younger Mr. Kim is on trial for accepting billions of won in return for his influence in public affairs.

One hundred million won would be about equal to the combined annual salaries of three people who work at a major corporation. We are flabbergasted to hear that that much money was spent each month for some years. The actual term is 'miscellaneous expenses incurred to maintain stature," but it is basically cash thrown away at luxury hostess bars and gifts to staff members and others. The math works out to about 3 million won a day, which is beyond the imagination of the ordinary working person. The actual amount of money involved magnifies what might have been vague outrage. What was the Blue House, which was so busy talking about getting rid of corruption, doing?

The amount, 100 million won, may actually be nothing for a man who allegedly accepted 1 billion won from the owner of a big business and stashed it on his balcony and received an additional 50 million won every month after that. After all, that is just the cash he remembers, so no wonder he was not counting the 100 million won a month.

What enrages the public even more about Mr. Kim's conduct is the number of times he has said "I don't know." Mr. Kim responded to the prosecution that he believed the money was coming from the people his cronies, Kim Sung-hwan and Yoo Jin-geol, were in business with. The claim is as incredible as anything he has said, and the prosecution branded it just that when it said, "It is likely Mr. Kim and Mr. Yoo used your name to receive the money from businesses."

Mr. Kim is a son of the president. If only to lessen the embarrassment to his father, he should come clean about his misconduct and ask for forgiveness. He needs to see that every time he tries to shift the responsibility to others, he will be chastened by the prosecution to be honest, and it will only add more insult to his name.
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