[EDITORIALS]Some mysteries in a memo

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[EDITORIALS]Some mysteries in a memo

A memo scribbled by Kim Byeong-ho, an administrator with the Kim Dae-jung Peace Foundation for the Asia-Pacific Region, arouses interest. Mr. Kim is under investigation in an alleged graft case involving Kim Hong-up, the president's second son. Since the memo was disclosed by a Korean newspaper, Kim Byeong-ho has cut off outside contact and refused to comply with prosecution summonses.

The memo contains phrases such as "personal life," "About 500 million won for the National Intelligence Service? About 100 million won," "prevent holding a parliamentary hearing," "nothing has emerged so far," "several tens of millions of money at the point of Kim Sung-hwan transaction in 1999," "foundation is a sanctuary?" and "Confirm Hugwang's money." The exact meaning of these fragmentary snatches can be translated by the writer himself, but there is enough here to warrant suspicion.

Kim Byeong-ho is one of Kim Hong-up's insiders at the foundation ?perhaps the second son's main money-laundering agent, according to the investigation. The memo is critical because the slow pace of the investigation has triggered speculation that those allegedly involved are scheming and putting their words together so as to evade the alleged charges.

Kim Byeong-ho's flip-flopping explanation compounds the suspicion. About the 500 million won ($400,000), he said, "A friend asked me to get the National Intelligence Service's budget for electronic papers." The intelligence agency denied receiving such a phone call and denied the budget figure. "Confirm Hugwang's money," Mr. Kim said, referred to a tip about irregularities at the Hugwang Literature Award. But the man accused of the irregularities denies anything is wrong. Besides, although named after President Kim Dae-jung's alias, the award is now managed by a private body, so why should speculation about the award foundation's irregularities should pop up at the peace foundation?

Kim Byeong-ho's hiding out only inflames public sentiment. The prosecutors must dig for the truth. A small memo may lead a graft investigation to another dimension.
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