[EDITORIALS]Noble aims, base actions

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[EDITORIALS]Noble aims, base actions

The black drama of the Lee Yong-ho scandal is becoming even more murky. Now we learn that Lee Soo-dong, a former director of the Kim Dae-jung Peace Foundation for the Asia-Pacific Region, received 50 million won ($38,500) from Lee Yong-ho. Because of the symbolic importance of the foundation and the history of the man who got the money, tension is mounting.

The peace foundation was established in 1994 while Kim Dae-jung was an opposition leader. The foundation is the place where this administration's "sunshine policy" of engaging the North was developed. The foundation, whose vice chairman is President Kim's second son, is where Mr. Kim will return after his term of office. Mr. Lee, the former director, is from Mr. Kim's hometown on Haui Island in South Jeolla province, and in the past was Mr. Kim's valet. Mr. Lee became close to President Kim even before Kwon Roh-gap, one of the senior members of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party. While Mr. Kim was leading the political opposition, Mr. Lee reportedly handled Mr. Kim's sensitive political matters, including slush funds.

President Kim earnestly requested that Mr. Lee lie low during this administration, but Mr. Lee yielded to the temptation of money.

We wonder if the money went into the foundation's coffers. The foundation denies that it did, but its denial is unconvincing because Mr. Lee was for a time the manager of the foundation's businesses and operations. "I used the money personally, but its use was somewhat to benefit the public," Mr. Lee explained clumsily, and his statement did nothing but reveal the moral weakness in this administration.

The Lee Yong-ho scandal is no longer a case of indiscriminate lobbying by a swindler; prosecutors should investigate if this administration's leading figures are at the center of corruption. Mr. Lee, President Kim's nephew Lee Hyung-taek and Kim Bong-ho, a former MDP lawmaker who was once investigated by the independent counsel, all have handled political funds of the president. Mr. Lee and Mr. Kim received bribes from Lee Yong-ho just before the April 13 general election, and persons close to the president's second son are also under suspicion. The peace foundation seems to be at the center of all this. It should be investigated thoroughly and the outcome should be made public.

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