[EDITORIALS]No more kid-gloves

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[EDITORIALS]No more kid-gloves

Kim Hong-up, the second son of President Kim Dae-jung, was told to appear at the prosecutors office Wednesday. With Mr. Kim's lawyer vehemently denying his client received a penny of dishonest money, and the prosecutors declaring that Mr. Kim is merely to be the subject of some questioning, it is unclear what is to happen after Wednesday. However, the fact that the prosecutors repeatedly said they cannot summon him without any definite allegations or evidence shows that this time the prosecutors might have reached some kind of decision about what to do with Mr. Kim.

Suspicions of corruption surrounding Mr. Kim were first suggested by the special investigation team led by Cha Jung-il in the affairs of Lee Yong-ho, a start-up businessman who was indicted for bribery and stock manipulation. It had been nearly three months since prosecutors had taken over from Mr. Cha's special counsel and received information about the mysterious bank accounts totaling some 1 billion won ($800,000) from an unknown source, uncovered during the investigations of Lee Soo-dong. Mr. Lee worked with Mr. Kim for the president's private peace foundation.

There are three suspected allegations surrounding Mr. Kim. First, there are suspicions that Mr. Kim has received bribes from close acquaintances such as Kim Sung-hwan, Yoo Jin-geol and Lee Geo-seong, all school friends of Mr. Kim who are being detained on charges of accepting bribes in return for influence. These three friends are reported to have gone around boasting of their ties with the president's son and received enormous bribes for doing favors that they would not have the power to grant on their own. Naturally, this makes for a strong case that Mr. Kim himself was behind all of this.

Then there is the question of money laundering. Mr. Kim is found to have "deposited" 2.8 billion won in several bank accounts held by others. To hide a huge amount of money in someone else's bank account is illegal in itself and moreover, the means by which Mr. Kim acquired the money has yet to be revealed. Mr. Kim's side claims that the money is left over from his father's presidential election campaign funds in 1997, but an accurate clarification of the money's source is still needed.

The mysterious note allegedly written by Kim Byeong-ho, an administrator with the peace foundation who has evaded contact with the prosecutors, also needs some explanation. Among other things written, the note contains the following words: "About 500 million won from the National Intelligence Service? Another 100 million won." The explanations provided by the writer were a little fuzzy, while inquiries into Mr. Kim's bank transactions have provided grounds for rumor that several hundred million won in National Intelligence Service funds has found its way into Mr. Kim's pockets.

It is a national shame and tragedy to see two sons of the president being summoned by the prosecutors in less than a month's span. Precautions against family meddling and corruption have constantly been emphasized, starting five years ago when former President Kim Young-sam's son, Hyun-chul, was indicted on charges of receiving bribes. But the efforts have turned out to be in vain.

The results of the June 13 local elections show the public wants this scandal surrounding the president's son to be verified. There is no more need for kid-gloving the case by the prosecutors. All that is left now is for the truth to be uncovered and for the law to do its duty.
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