[EDITORIALS]Friends aiding a friend?

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[EDITORIALS]Friends aiding a friend?

The attitude of the Blue House toward the settlement of a lawsuit involving Kim Hong-gul, President Kim Dae-jung's third son, poses several questions. Did a state organization assist the chief executive or a private group working for the president's son? For instance, Yoon Sock-joong, a Blue House secretary for foreign media, is said to have assisted in the case. He argues that he got involved in the lawsuit "as a friend of Hong-gul" and that his involvement has nothing to do with the Blue House. Does this mean he neglected his job as a Blue House official and that his job was easy? We question whether Mr. Yoon paid the legal and travel expenses out of his own pocket or from the government coffers.

As an official working under the foreign-media secretary for the Blue Hose, Mr. Yoon was assigned to the Korean Consulate General in Los Angeles as a public-relations official in 2000, when a lawsuit over Hong-gul's lavish lifestyle was filed. After he settled the suit in May 2001 with Lee Shin-bom, a former opposition Grand National Party lawmaker, who filed the complaint, Mr. Yoon returned to the Blue House in February and was promoted. How should one view these events, in which Mr. Yoon agreed to give $50,000 to the former lawmaker, not to mention Mr. Yoon's promotion? He has tried to avoid local reporters and said in a statement that he helped Hong-gul because the president's son did not have enough money to make the payment. The question is whether such an act should be viewed as official business or a personal matter.

Lew Seon-ho, the then senior presidential secretary for political affairs, exchanged faxed messages with secretaries of Lee Hoi-chang, the opposition leader. That provides some support for the allegation that the Blue House had a full grasp of the issue. Nevertheless, Mr. Lew maintained that he had never reported the issue to the president. The more they try to explain where the checks that Hong-gul gave to Mr. Lee came from and how Hong-gul bought land in Ilsan, the more complicated the issue gets. Perhaps a better way to avoid a political crisis is to admit that they had to help Hong-gul as the president's secretaries and that they raised money through such and such methods to settle the issue.
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