[EDITORIALS]'Your cash is waiting, sir'

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[EDITORIALS]'Your cash is waiting, sir'

Kim Sung-hwan, a close high school friend of Kim Hong-up, the president's son, said in court that he "granted requests" as Hong-up's butler "and received money from the requesters as a service fee." Mr. Kim also testified that Yoo Jin-geul, another friend of Kim Hong-up, initially was the only butler but that he began to work with Mr. Yoo and continued after Mr. Yoo resigned. "No one could meet Hong-up if not through me," he added.

The word "butler" in common usage refers to someone who is close to his master and takes care of his household affairs. Mr. Kim's testimony gives support to the allegation that the president's son had used some of his friends to grant favors he was asked for and to collect money afterward. Mr. Kim's testimony seems to have come from an intention to show he was nothing but a messenger following his master's orders.

Concrete evidence of how Kim Hong-up interfered in all fields of government decisions has turned up. Mr. Kim could call off tax inspections and decide the level of national honors to be handed to model taxpayers; that demonstrates how he could manipulate the tax administration. Mr. Kim kept the prosecutors from detaining Lee Jae-kwan, the vice-chairman of the Saehan Group, when Mr. Lee was indicted and interfered in the investigation of allegations that the Ulsan mayor had taken bribes. That shows how freely he controlled the prosecutors. With the two main pillars of power, tax and prosecution, in his hands, we can guess how mighty Mr. Kim was.

Why were there so many "butlers" in the "people's government" that boasts of leading the way to democracy? Butlers in the strict dictionary sense never existed in Korea, but there were private manservants kept by feudal lords and other powerful men. There is Lee Soo-dong, the "eternal butler" of President Kim Dae-jung, and now a self-proclaimed butler to the president's son has appeared. There should be no butlers in a democratic government; they only appear when power has been abused and privatized. As long as people think they can buy power to solve problems, "butlers" will help.
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