[EDITORIALS]Not all questions answeredThe once-secret $500 million transfer to North Korea was not only to fund economic cooperation but also to make sure the June 2000 inter-Korean summit happened. These are the findings of Song Doo-hwan, the independent counsel investigating the cash-for-summit case. His team found that during the course of arranging the summit, the government promised $100 million in cash to the North, in addition to the Hyundai Group’s pledge of $ 400 million.
“We concluded that the [payment’s] association with the summit cannot be denied,” the independent counsel said in its politically tailored statement. In other words, the Kim Dae-jung administration paid the North for the summit. Mr. Kim and those involved must apologize to the nation for glossing over the truth, issuing denials and lying. They should ask for forgiveness. It is an insult to the nation to buy a summit meeting no matter who it is with, and nothing can justify that.
The Kim administration is trying its best to cover up the truth. Lim Dong-won, the National Intelligence Service head at the time of the summit, said the payment was a matter of policy to resolve the North Koreans’ hardship, and he counseled Mr. Kim not to make that public, taking the trust between the two Koreas into account. If the payment was a matter of policy, why did the Kim administration not inform the public? To make Mr. Kim’s justification of presidential prerogative convincing, they should have been open about their activities.
The counsel’s finding also shows that the summit was arranged under the cozy relations between the government and business, and the backlash took a big toll on the Hyundai Group. The counsel’s achievements cannot be refuted, but it deserves criticism for not investigating Mr. Kim. President Roh Moo-hyun summoned Mr. Song to the Blue House, which could influence the probe.
The independent counsel said the investigation was incomplete. Any new investigators must lay bare the remaining allegations, including suspicions on the 15 billion won ($12.5 million) Hyundai gave Park Jie-won, President Kim’s former chief of staff.