[EDITORIALS]Under one scandal, anotherPark Jie-won, the former presidential chief of staff, allegedly received 15 billion won ($13.4 million) from the Hyundai Group. The new shocking allegation was in addition to the assertion that he abused his authority by pressuring the Korea Development Bank to loan Hyundai 400 billion won in the course of arranging the 2000 inter-Korean summit.
During the last administration, Mr. Park was nicknamed “the proxy president.” Taking account of his power, the newly revealed allegation hints that the scandal is more than just a cash-for-summit charge. The newly alleged bribery could be a fatal blow to the Kim Dae-jung administration. Since the money was allegedly taken around the time of the legislative elections, revelations of how it was used will create a stir in Korean politics.
According to the detention warrant, Mr. Park allegedly requested Hyundai Asan’s chairman Chung Mong-hun to provide 15 billion won to prepare for an inter-Korean summit. The request was allegedly made in early April 2000 through an unnamed businessman.
The independent counsel said Mr. Park received 150 copies of certificates of deposit, each for 100 million won, from Lee Ik-chi, then chairman of Hyundai Securities, in the middle of the same month. The money was intended to get Mr. Park’s help in opening a casino and duty-free shops in connection with Hyundai’s inter-Korean business.
The counsel said the alleged bribery of Mr. Park was connected to the summit and so fell within the scope of its work.
Mr. Park denied the allegation, saying that if he wanted money, he would have gone to Mr. Chung directly. Mr. Park said the alleged bribe was deposited in an account belonging to a friend of the Hyundai Securities chairman.
The independent counsel is still probing the case, and it must get to the bottom of these charges. Now more than ever, politicians must stop arguing about whether the counsel’s tenure should be extended.
The counsel must sort out all these allegations without being pressured by politicians or an artificial deadline.