[EDITORIALS]Mysterious 100 million won

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[EDITORIALS]Mysterious 100 million won

As suspicion surrounding Lee Soo-dong, former executive director of the Kim Dae-jung Peace Foundation for the Asia-Pacific Region, grows, new evidence has emerged suggesting that slush funds may have been funneled into the foundation's coffers. Among documents discovered at Mr. Lee's residence, aside from those showing government officials asked him to lobby for their promotion, were papers detailing how to retake the Blue House in the next presidential election and reform the press. Suspicion is raised whether there is institutional involvement, going beyond Mr. Lee's personal corruption.

The latest suspicions of how 100 million won ($76,000) of Kim Seong-whan's money was funneled to the foundation inflates the mystery. Mr. Kim is in hiding, dogged by allegations that he asked the former prosecutor general, Shin Seung-nam, to gloss over an investigation into the Lee Yong-ho case. This financial corruption case is a political time bomb that has ensnarled and threatens to snare senior officials of the Kim Dae-jung administration, as well as the president's personal aides. Of the 100 million won, investigators have found that 44 million won was delivered to Mr. Lee and his wife through the foundation's vice chairman, Kim Hong-up, President Kim's second son.

To deflect the suspicions, the foundation said the president's son borrowed 100 million won from his friend, Kim Seong-whan, some of which he used to cover Mr. Lee's retirement fund. The foundation said it knows nothing of and has nothing to do with the documents found in Mr. Lee's house. Their response falls short of addressing the questions the case raises.

If indeed, slush money from Lee Yong-ho, a corporate raider, was somehow funneled to the foundation, it would be a fatal moral blow. The evidence discovered so far by the independent counsel shows that a group of people is involved. We believe an investigation into the foundation and its vice chairman, Kim Hong-up, should be launched separately from the independent counsel's inquiry into Lee Yong-ho. The foundation should appear voluntarily before the prosecution to ease heated negative public opinion. As for Kim Seong-whan, the fugitive, the wise thing for him to do would be to appear and cooperate with the prosecutors to clear up this matter.

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