[EDITORIALS]No secondhand apologiesThe Blue House statement that President Kim Dae-jung is sorry for the controversy over his sons is dispiriting. The way the president chose to express his feelings and what was conveyed fell short of expectations. The public, already outraged over allegations of influence-peddling by the president's three sons, wanted to hear a heartfelt apology or an explanation directly from the president's lips. We assumed that as a father he would express contrition and agony, yet convey decisively how he will practice damage-control. But the message from the president, which came after a long silence, was delivered as a secondhand apology, a lukewarm gesture that needs elaboration, and one that aggravates the people's disappointment.
Koreans are distressed over the fact that they have to hear that "President Kim is in agony" through his spokeswoman. They question why Mr. Kim cannot appear on national television to deliver an apology. Five years back, former President Kim Young-sam went on national television and said, "Like all fathers, a son's fault is that of the father," after his second son, Hyun-chul, was implicated in influence-peddling for conglomerates. And he apologized before the nation. Those who remember that image think that President Kim Dae-jung, yoked by the feelings of a helpless father, while keeping a distance from the raging public and an unprecedented crisis in national governance, has acted naively in a grave situation.
The spokeswoman said that the president is following the prosecution's investigation and believes that his sons will be dealt with according to the findings. This is a vague statement that does not clarify whether he believes that his sons must be subject to a proper inquiry just like any other Korean citizen. Five years back, President Kim Dae-jung spoke coldly of Kim Hyun-chul: "The biggest responsibility lies with the father. This must be dealt with by law, and that includes an arrest as well." Now that the table has been turned, the president's behavior －－ without conviction and of a lukewarm nature －－ is adding to the public's frustration. Secondhand apologies and round-about explanations will only fuel more public outrage. The president should get a grip on his understandable misery and commit himself to resolving the problem at hand, as many of us expect he will.