[EDITORIALS]Prosecutors must persevereAllegations about Hyundai Group’s money transfer to North Korea are expanding into a scandal involving slush funds after the investigations of the matter by the independent counsel and the prosecution. Prosecutors yesterday arrested Kwon Roh-kap, and the investigation of Hyundai’s illicit political war chest is reaching its climax.
Mr. Kwon, a former member of the Millennium Democratic Party’s supreme council, and Park Jie-won, the former Blue House chief of staff, were singled out as having allegedly received Hyundai bribes. During the Kim Dae-jung administration, Mr. Kwon and Mr. Park exercised enormous influence over national affairs.
Mr. Park was accused of receiving 15 billion won in bribes, while Mr. Kwon allegedly received another large sum. If the charges are correct, Hyundai not only gave North Korea hundreds of billions of won for its inter-Korean projects, but also bribed influential members of the Kim administration to save the firm from a severe cash crunch. We wonder if Kim administration officials can still call Hyundai’s money transfers to the North “legitimate economic cooperation” and if they can still blame the independent counsel for harming the administration’s engagement policy toward the North.
Mr. Kwon allegedly gave a significant sum of the money from Hyundai to support his party’s National Assembly election campaign, but ruling party members are reacting absurdly. Some say they received no money; others say they know nothing about the matter. Some say the money was probably spent to elect young party members in the capital region. The old and new factions of the party blame each other. We wonder if anyone in the Millennium Democratic Party is innocent.
The ruling party is angry at the prosecution; the prosecution should be proud of that, and complete its investigation thoroughly to restore its tarnished reputation. Prosecutors are now also accused of abusing Chung Mong-hun, the Hyundai heir who recently committed suicide. It must answer those allegations, but should not be distracted from its probe of Hyundai’s political funding efforts.