[EDITORIALS]A hasty departureHanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-youn’s sudden departure for the United States is simply wrong. Prosecutors are investigating the group concerning possible illegal campaign financing during the presidential election period.
He, along with his wife, left for the United States just one day before prosecutors banned him from traveling abroad, so suspicions arose that he went overseas to dodge the prosecutors’ investigation. Also, Mr. Kim’s departure casts doubt on the prosecution’s ability to track down suspects.
Mr. Kim is the owner of one of the nation’s top business conglomerates. It was not appropriate for him to suddenly leave the country while facing the prosecution’s investigation. Hanwha Group claims, “Mr. Kim had prepared for a training trip in the United States since last October, and his departure was not designed to escape prosecutors.”
But we believe even the owner of a small shop would not vacate his business for a long time. It is against common sense for Mr. Kim, the chairman of a large business, to leave his office for six months.
The training program the group claims Mr. Kim will attend in the United States is not an urgent one. The group says Mr. Kim will study the “future of U.S.-South Korean relations and the role of NGOs” at a U.S. university. But he should think of the situation his group faces now. Prosecutors have raided Hanwha offices and summoned many group executives. This is an emergency situation for the group that requires Mr. Kim’s presence in the country.
Now that Mr. Kim is attending the alleged training in the United States at his leisure, it appears that he has shed his responsibility for the group.
The fact that Mr. Kim went abroad a day before the prosecution’s travel ban is another critical point that cannot be overlooked. If he left because of a tip-off, someone should be punished. Mr. Kim should voluntarily return to the country as soon as possible and cooperate with prosecutors. The prosecution, for its part, should look for possible leaks in its office.