[FORUM]Mining others' achievements

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[FORUM]Mining others' achievements

Chung Mong-joon, former presidential candidate of Nat-ional Alliance 21, bowed out of the race this week. Confirming its reputation for thrift, the party did not spend much on the campaign, so there was not much of a loss.

Mr. Chung's promise to entrust his stake in Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. to a financial institution is now meaningless. The share price surged after he gave up his run. Mr. Chung spent 1.6 billion won ($1.3 million) to create his party, and he raised 5 billion won through fund-raising. He was applauded as he bowed out of the race for endorsing Mr. Roh. Mr. Chung gained maximum results out of minimum investment. It was a profitable deal.

Where did such rationale and ambition come from? How did Mr. Chung run for president without a single current legislator supporting him? Mr. Chung's distinctive behavior and talent displayed in efforts to bring the World Cup games to Korea offer some clues.

Mr. Chung was at the center of the successful World Cup, but controversy arose over what was seen as his monopolizing the spotlight. A former lawmaker, Kang Sin-ok, who is close to Mr. Chung, said, "Mr. Chung alone made every effort, spending his own money." This statement worked well, but it is mostly wrong. Mr. Chung made efforts, which is true, but it is not true that he spent out of his own pocket.

The truth is as follows: The co-hosting of the World Cup with Japan was decided in 1996, when Kim Young-sam was Korea's president. Thirty- three billion won was spent to bring the World Cup to Korea, and Koo Pyong-hwoi, then the chairman of the Korea International Trade Association, was credited with raising the money. President Kim attributed the success mostly to Mr. Koo.

Unlike efforts to host the Olympics during the Chun Doo Hwan administration, President Kim was reluctant to spend much money on the bid for the World Cup. Mr. Koo brought in 4 billion won raised by LG Group. Samsung, Hyundai and Daewoo groups contributed nearly equal amounts. So did Posco and SK. The Federation of Korean Industries also raised money.

Mr. Chung was not involved much in raising the money, but he spent the money. Mr. Koo said, "Half the 33 billion won went to Mr. Chung." Bizarre things happened during the process because Mr. Chung never handed in receipts. Mr. Koo gently told Mr. Chung, "Receipts can help manage the large amount of money transparently." Mr. Koo said Mr. Chung did not listen.

There were suspicions. "Money spent by Mr. Chung to lobby FIFA officials was paid to him separately from official expenditures. There arose questions over where Mr. Chung spent the money, which resulted in internal conflicts. "It was nonsense that there were no receipts of payment," said a related official.

If Mr. Chung were still in the presidential race, the receipt issue could be highlighted. The Grand National Party and the ruling MDP might have pursued the issue.

The titillating inside story of the World Cup games was overwhelmed by their success. Mr. Chung benefited from the success, and those who actually did most of the work were not recognized. This could be attributed to Mr. Chung's political skill of being at the center of the spotlight, leaving out the contributions of others.

Mr. Chung must have believed that knowing how to create maximum reward out of minimum investment would win him the presidency. Mobilizing the public and heightening popularity is essentially the same as the process involved to become a World Cup host country.

Mr. Chung focused on several strongholds. The legislator Park Geun-hye was one of them, but she found him unqualified. Loyalists and volunteers were disappointed because Mr. Chung did not seem committed. Even a person who is very close to him said, "Mr. Chung showed a superb quality of making the achievements of others his own, but it did not work in the presidential race."

* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Park Bo-gyoon

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