[EDITORIALS]Return and face the music

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[EDITORIALS]Return and face the music

Kim Yoon-kyu, president and chief executive officer of Hyundai Asan Corp., left Seoul for Tokyo again on Tuesday. Just two days ago he had returned home after a 27-day visit to Beijing and North Korea.

He seemed to ignore suspicions about the Korea Development Bank's loan of 400 billion won ($359 million using the exchange rate at the time) to Hyundai Merchant Marine, the Hyundai Group's shipping unit, which once operated the Mount Geumgang tourism business with Hyundai Asan. Seemingly, Mr. Kim does not care about the latest crisis surrounding the North's nuclear arms program.

Chung Mong-hun, chairman of Hyundai Asan's board, has been in the United States since Sept. 15. He showed a similar escapist attitude two and a half years ago, when the Hyundai Group's liquidity crisis rattled the nation.

A series of liquidity crises hit Hyundai's financial and construction arms following a feud among members of the group's founding family. Mr. Chung spent time with his friends, rather than returning home to help resolve the conglomerate's financial problems. During this period, Mr. Kim forced Hyundai Merchant Marine, about the only financially healthy Hyundai affiliate at that time, to invest 180 billion won in Hyundai Asan.

If these two executives feel even the slightest sense of responsibility for the management of their company, they should come back to Korea immediately and shed light on suspicions about the 400 billion won, which is alleged to have been passed secretly to Pyeongyang. During the Hyundai Group's financial crisis, the Financial Supervisory Service and Korea Exchange Bank, Hyundai's main creditor, pressured Mr. Chung to return home. This time, the financial watchdog remains silent on the growing suspicions about what Hyundai Merchant Marine did with the loan.

Both Mr. Chung and Mr. Kim should show more responsible behavior. Do they not feel ashamed, since the late Chung Ju-yung, the conglomerate's founder, trusted them so much?

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