[EDITORIALS]The Nobel controversy

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[EDITORIALS]The Nobel controversy

Reports of lobbying activities to help President Kim Dae-jung win the Nobel Peace Prize have caused a stir at the Blue House. The furor stems from a report in Newsweek's Korean edition of the alleged lobbying. The report was published in major dailies. The Blue House asserts that the report contends Mr. Kim won the Nobel Prize solely because of the lobbying activities.

That President Kim won the prize is truly an honor for the nation. The Blue House chief of staff, Park Jie-won, said the president will counter the reports as a point of honor, hinting that the matter may be taken to court.

And yet, before getting upset, the Blue House must ask why such reports are being published. According to the Blue House, the documents alleging lobbying activities, which were drawn up by Choi Gyu-seon, who is currently in prison, are groundless. The explanation may be true. Taking into account the authority of the Nobel Prize and the selection committee's tradition of strict evaluation, lobbying to sway the selection would seem doomed to fail. And yet, Mr. Choi once worked as President Kim's close aide; a significant part of the plans and methods suggested in the documents has in fact taken place. That is what makes this a matter of serious concern.

The allegation that the government shepherded the transfer of $400 million to the North is also part of our concern. Suspicions have arisen that backdoor dealings could have taken place to create conditions that would help President Kim's chances before the Nobel committee. The people are concerned about the distortion of policies and national governance during the period of the panel's deliberation, if such allegations are true.

The Blue House is denying that any lobbying took place. Efforts to promote the president's achievements and activities to foreign figures who are not familiar with Mr. Kim are natural. But the Blue House did nothing but deny, stirring up debate.

What matters are if the government engaged in lobbying and if there were any improper actions. In order to salvage the nation's dignity, the Blue House should explain what happened rather than playing politics. The allegations that $400 million was provided to the North should be resolved promptly.
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