[EDITORIALS]Sealed lips on Hyundai cashRather than answer the questions and suspicions shrouding Hyundai Group’s covert channeling of money to North Korea, Chairman Chung Mong-hun’s explanation tracked the Blue House’s. It is frustrating to see the government and Hyundai moving in stride not to get at the truth but to put forth explanations that smack of excuses. It would be a great miscalculation if they think they can avoid the billowing clouds of suspicion.
There was not much news in Mr. Chung’s press conference yesterday, other than his admission that he sent $500 million to secure exclusive rights for Hyundai on projects in North Korea. Mr. Chung said the idea for a summit was proposed by the government, and Hyundai passed the message to the North. The disclosure seems to differ from the Blue House statement that there was no link between the money and the summit.
Yet Hyundai and the government act as if they had a tacit agreement. The heart of the matter is that the government bestowed preferential treatment on a private company in order to come up with money that was later illegally funneled to North Korea. We need to learn what the preferential treatment was and what illegal deeds were done. But the administration and Hyundai remain silent, asking the public to accept and understand. What is it that they want us to understand? What preferential treatment should the public begin understanding? And to what illegal deeds should the public close its eyes?
In sending the money without approval of the Unification Ministry, Hyundai violated the Inter-Korea Exchange and Cooperation Act, and the group may well be called to account. We can be sure that Hyundai’s management was aware of the risk, which means its interest was greater than the risk. The suspicions aroused cannot be addressed unless the specific amount and conditions of the preferential benefit are fully revealed.
Mr. Chung confirmed that Hyundai has no intention of shedding light on the truth. The Kim Dae-jung administration tosses the ball to Hyundai, which puts forth excuses. How will truth be revealed? Such ping-pong avoidance of responsibility is a waste of time. Since everyone is keeping mum, an independent counsel is the only remaining path.