[EDITORIALS]Tell the truth to the public

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[EDITORIALS]Tell the truth to the public

Truth is being neglected as key administration officials, from generals to former high-ranking bank officials, engage in a "truth or consequences" exchange. Serious allegations, capable of rocking the nation if found true, are stuck in a limbo of crossfire. Was there a government-dictated loan to Hyundai Merchant Marine that was passed onto North Korea? Did the former Blue House chief of staff, Han Kwang-ok, exercise pressure on the state-owned bank? Did the current chief of staff, Park Jie-won, bargain with a special North Korean envoy named Yoshida over $24 million? Did the nation's defense chief ignore internal warnings of North Korean military aggression a few days before the gun battle on the Yellow Sea? The Kim Dae-jung administration adamantly denies any untoward conduct, although the allegations come from officials who were deeply involved in the various processes. Its stonewalling speaks of neglect of duty and end-of-tenure incoherence.

The rumor that the government "bought" the inter-Korean summit taints the progress the two Koreas have made since then; yet the government is not stepping up to clarify the allegations. If it indeed did not hand money under the table to the North, it should be easy to show how the 400 billion won ($330 million) loan from Korea Development Bank to Hyundai Merchant Marine was used. But the government says it cannot trace the shipping firm's bank accounts; Mr. Park says, "I have never given even a dollar to a North Korean person," and Mr. Han says he will sue for libel. Their firmness comes across as an effort to hide their unwillingness to look into the matter.

Without the truth, it will be difficult for President Kim to successfully wrap up the remaining four months of his term. The public's clamor for the unvarnished truth has boiled over. Broadsides from the ruling camp that the military general and the former governor of the Korea Development Bank, Uhm Rak-ryong, are lining up behind the opposition Grand National Party, are desperate utterances that hinder the path to the truth. The alleged collusive link between the government and the conglomerate and the legality of wiretapping are matters that require a separate independent inquiry. Mr. Kim and his administration should realize that there is no other way to tell the truth to the public than to trace the 400 billion won loan.
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