[EDITORIALS]Payday for Chun arrivesFormer President Chun Doo Hwan and his family are now believed to have more than 20 billion won ($16.7 million) in wealth, renewing suspicion that he has been hiding assets from the authorities. Mr. Chun said in a court hearing last month that was held to assess his net worth that he had just 291,000 won in bank savings, causing a public outrage. The circumstances surrounding how he and his family amassed such wealth have been the subject of curiosity and indignation.
Mr. Chun still owes 189.1 billion won in fines and the as of yet failed surrender of funds he has been ordered to give up. That is out of the 220.5 billion won levied against him by the court and upheld by the Supreme Court in 1997. He has paid just 14.3 percent of the levy. He claims to have used most of the money for political contributions. The prosecution is looking for hidden assets, but it has come up with very little so far.
The reason very few people believe Mr. Chun is that he maintains an extravagant lifestyle and spends freely. His calendar is filled with golf outings and overseas trips, and he gives presents to friends and family. He has said acquaintances support him, but this claim is very difficult to believe.
A lot of fact checking is due following the report that he has 20 billion won stashed away. A check, for example, on the transfer of titles to billions of won in real estate to his underage grandchildren should be run. Mr. Chun has said the property was inherited from his grandchildren’s maternal grandfather and had nothing to do with him. The responsibility of running the check rests with the prosecution.
Mr. Chun, a former head of state, should weigh what he intends to say more carefully. There is something despicable in claiming in court that he has only 291,000 won to his name when his grandchildren are wealthy. Such a statement could be grounds for being found in contempt of court. The levying of fines and repayment is a court matter. Every citizen bears the burden of paying for his wrongdoings. Mr. Chun must consult with his family to pay the amount he owes, however late his coming to terms might be.