[EDITORIALS]Another president tarredA lawyer has claimed that President Kim Young-sam, while in office, gave 94 billion won in cash to Secretary General Kang Sam-jae of the New Korea Party during the 1996 National Assembly elections. Mr. Kang supposedly revealed that to his lawyer, who then disclosed it publicly. It is shocking to learn that the president passed an astronomical amount of money, in his Blue House office, to his party’s secretary-general. If this claim is true, the prosecution left out a critical aspect during their investigation into the scandal involving the ruling party’s diversion of intelligence agency funds for the 1996 legislative elections.
In many ways, the new claim is compelling. Whenever Mr. Kang went to brief Mr. Kim on party affairs at the Blue House, the president would ask him to open his wallet after the briefing. Then Mr. Kim would fill it with 100 million won checks, huge amounts ranging from several billion to 20 billion won ($17 million) at a time. The former president also reportedly gave 25.7 billion won to his party during the 1995 local elections. Mr. Kang’s lawyer explained his client’s silence until now on Mr. Kang’s allegiance to the former president. “Just whom would Representative Kang Sam-jae protect until death?” he asked rhetorically.
Kim Young-sam was probably the first president to declare publicly that he would not accept “a single won” in political funds. As president, he brought two of his predecessors, Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae-woo, to trial for amassing several hundreds of billions of won.
We are disappointed further by the response from the former president. His aides characterize the scandal as Kim Dae-jung’s political revenge. They have blocked access by journalists to the former president’s home in Seoul. Where did that 120 billion won come from?
There have been several confessions recently by politicians. Now it is former President Kim Young-sam’s turn. He cannot forever hide behind his aides and ignore his duty to bring to light a page in Korea’s history. We ask him to rise to the task like a statesman and a president. We urge the prosecution to reinvestigate the case to determine if the money indeed came from the intelligence agency’s coffers or were the remains of campaign funds from Mr. Kim Young-sam’s 1992 campaign.