&#91EDITORIALS&#93Saints and speculators

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[EDITORIALS]Saints and speculators

We have learned that the prosecutors are investigating charges against Oh Wung-jin, a Catholic priest who founded "Kkottongnae" or "Flower Village," a welfare facility for the underprivileged in Eumseong-gun, North Chungcheong province. Kkottongnae is a refuge where the sick and social outcasts can find relief and a light of hope. Father Oh's devotion and love for the poor earned him such sobriquets as "Father of the needy" and "Man without a desire for possessions." We are embarrassed and confused to hear that Fr. Oh is going to be summoned by the prosecutors on charges of real estate speculation and misappropriation of donations and government subsidies. If the charges are proven, people's memories of Fr. Oh as a protector of weary and wounded souls will be ruined.

The charges were not brought by the prosecutors, but the accusations by the complainants are said to be very specific. Donations of hundreds of millions of won were said to have been deposited in Fr. Oh's brothers' accounts. It is also suspected that large pieces of land around Kkottongnae were purchased in the names of his family members, friends and Catholic nuns.

People at Kkottongnae said the charges of misappropriation of funds are groundless and that the purchase of the land in that manner was necessary because the law bans foundations from buying real estate. They were obliged, officials there said, to "borrow" the names of individuals.

The prosecution should clear up this matter quickly and release their findings. The spread of groundless rumors must be stopped. While investigating the charges of speculative investment in land with borrowed names, prosecutors should determine if the transactions were truly speculative or were meant to expand the institution. While we cannot allow exceptions to the law, it should be changed if it does not meet real needs adequately.

For the sake of people who love Kkottongnae, its management should explain this matter in detail.
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