[EDITORIALS]Trials just the beginningThe first trial in the cash-for-summit case opened yesterday. Now, it is up to the court to determine whether the money sent to Pyeongyang was payment for the inter-Korean summit and whether the deal could be considered part of the president’s prerogative to govern the country. But judging from the testimonies and statements made by key figures in the case and from the independent counsel’s inquiry, former President Kim Dae-jung must explain what happened.
An independent counsel investigation into Hyundai’s alleged gift of 15 billion won to Park Jie-won, then Minister of Culture and Tourism, is needed immediately. We need to find out why Pyeongyang refused a huge non-monetary gift offered by Seoul and demanded a payment in cash before the summit.
First of all, the independent counsel probe shows that the money sent to the North was indeed Hyundai’s payment for business rights in the North, but it was also a gift for the summit meeting. A statement by Chung Mong-hun, Hyundai’s chairman, and testimony by Hyundai Asan’s president, Kim Yoon-kyu, reveal that Pyeongyang threatened to cancel the summit meeting if $500 million was not deposited in an account owned by the North, and the Blue House accepted the demand. According to the testimony of Lim Dong-won, then National Intelligence Service director, President Kim was told of the illegality of the secret transmission, but allowed it anyway. If that is true, he must explain why the illegal cash remittance can be defined as an “act of state administration.”
It was also revealed for the first time that Mr. Park had offered a public works package of at least $2 billion on top of the humanitarian aid of rice and fertilizer if the North agreed to the summit. We demand to know why Pyeongyang refused a much larger deal and insisted on cash aid that was less in total value. Did the former administration ever consider the possibility that the North could use the money to purchase or develop weapons to threaten the South? The only fair means of finding the truth is a new independent counsel investigation. And Kim Dae-jung needs to tell what he knows.