[EDITORIALS]More summit questions

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[EDITORIALS]More summit questions

The Blue House's position and response to the allegation of Hyundai Merchant Marine's payment to North Korea has been utterly inadequate. The Blue House Chief of Staff Park Jie-won said Monday that the Grand National Party's claim about the payment was "a political attack." He also said the Blue House was in no position to talk about a financial transaction between the Korea Development Bank and the Hyundai unit. "There should not be a groundless tracing of financial accounts or disclosure of ledgers," he said.

Mr. Park's statements fail to address prevalent public opinion. It is the public's right to bring into the open the whereabouts of the money that came from the Korea Development Bank. It is the Blue House's responsibility to actively try to clear up questions about the activities of the president. Any attempt to reduce questions about the allegations as politically motivated tactics is only a reflection of the Blue House's lack of willingness to help disclose the truth.

Mr. Park may have gone beyond his authority when he said there is lack of justification to trace financial accounts. He may have been stating a principle, just as the Financial Supervisory Service has been claiming that tracing of corporate accounts is illegal unless there are questions of antitrust activities. But there is also an opinion that it is perfectly justified on the grounds that the examination can be considered an extension of an inspection of a state bank's financial condition. The bank suffered financially because of the loan to Hyundai Merchant Marine, the argument goes. The key is the willingness to clear up a mystery, which the government is fully capable of doing by applying a broad interpretation of the rule. Mr. Park's statements may have also discouraged the financial agency from doing its job, and it is particularly inappropriate because Mr. Park was a key figure in putting together the June 2000 summit between President Kim Dae-jung and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

The questions about a "payoff" must not be left unanswered. The Blue House must take the initiative to calm the GNP claims that the summit was a perfect opportunity for "Mr. Kim's quest for the Nobel prize and Kim Jong-il's greed to take advantage of each other." The initiative must be a top priority of the administration as it closes out its term.
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