[EDITORIALS]Payoffs in Los Angeles

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[EDITORIALS]Payoffs in Los Angeles

We learned Wednesday that Kim Hong-gul, the president's third son, last year agreed to pay $560,000 to Lee Shin-bom, a former lawmaker of the Grand National Party. The suspicious deal between the two took place in Los Angeles. The connection between Mr. Kim and Mr. Lee suggests that a series of recent questions about possible corruption involving Mr. Kim are not misplaced.

Just why did Mr. Kim promise such a large sum of money to Mr. Lee? Mr. Kim denied speculation that he agreed to pay the money in order to avoid testimony in a U.S. court over the source of his income, and said the agreement was to avoid Mr. Lee's threats to divulge secrets about Mr. Kim.

If that is true, Mr. Kim must have some pretty good secrets to hide. Mr. Lee earlier divulged that Mr. Kim owns a home worth $970,000 and spends an average of $67,000 a month, drawing on a large savings account.

Mr. Kim also said in his explanation that Mr. Lee promised to destroy all documents about Mr. Kim's financial transactions that Mr. Lee had acquired by "inappropriate means." Was it only the process of obtaining the documents that was inappropriate? And how did Mr. Kim propose to get the $560,000 to pay Mr. Lee?

Of that sum, $110,000 was for legal costs in connection with a lawsuit that Mr. Lee filed against the Millennium Democratic Party and some U.S. media for libel, a case that Mr. Lee lost. Why did Mr. Kim have to pay those expenses?

Mr. Kim has already paid $100,000 of the amount he agreed to. A Blue House official who acted on Mr. Kim's behalf in this matter said the money might have been paid because Mr. Kim was trying to avoid Mr. Lee's threats and protect Korea's dignity. The official refused to answer any other questions, saying that the matter was still under litigation in the United States.

That, however, shows a lack of understanding of the seriousness of the situation. All three sons of the president are involved in corruption scandals, fueling disgust and outrage here. For the president's sake and for his own, Mr. Kim should tell the truth about his deal with Mr. Lee and accept responsibility for his actions.

Mr. Lee should also tell the truth in order to clear up all the rumors and suspicions that are indeed affecting our national dignity.
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