Park takes heat on the draft, nonprofit funds

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Park takes heat on the draft, nonprofit funds

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Grand National Party Seoul mayoral nominee Na Kyung-won and liberal independent contender Park Won-soon met at a walking festival on Oct. 4 and renewed their promise to avoid personal attacks on each other in the campaign leading up to the Oct. 26 election. Easier said than done: Both candidates have already been attacked for their backgrounds and past histories, and the volleys are getting stronger as election day nears.
Park Won-soon, left, the liberal contender for Seoul mayor, and Na Kyung-won, the GNP’s nominee, walk to their respective seats Monday at a debate organized by the Kwanhun Club at the Korea Press Center in Seoul. [YONHAP]

Park Won-soon, the liberal’s great hope in the mayoral election, is being challenged on many episodes in his past. Ironically, the main themes for the attacks were first brought up by his current boosters during the liberal primary to choose a candidate.

During a televised debate on Sept. 30, Park Young-sun, the Democratic Party’s ultimately unsuccessful nominee, accused the 55-year-old rights activist and lawyer of having received massive donations from conglomerates for his nonprofit charity Beautiful Foundation, although he has long condemned the large companies’ business practices and allegedly immoral management.

“You were holding a whip in one hand while receiving money with the other,” she said. “How should we take this? Conglomerates do not necessarily give donations out of good will.”

Park Won-soon’s response was that all the donations were used to help poor people and all accounts linked to the money were open for inspection on the foundation’s Web site, stressing that not a penny was spent by him personally.

The conservatives are now challenging the integrity of Park’s advocacy groups. Representative Kang Yong-seok went into attack mode after poring through the foundation’s filings to the National Tax Service. (Kang is an independent who used to be affiliated with the ruling Grand National Party before his expulsion for a sexual harassment episode.)

Kang said the foundation received a total of 40 billion won ($34.4 million) from 2000 to 2010 from large companies such as NHN and Hyundai Heavy Industries, as well as state-run firms such as Korea Electric Power Corporation and the Export-Import Bank of Korea. Kang said Park’s charity failed to state clearly how it spent the money.

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Kang also said there was a suspicious pattern in the donations. He said the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, founded by Park, criticized the ownership structures and management practices of the conglomerates, and large donations were made to Park’s Beautiful Foundation following the attacks.

Park’s spokesman, Song Ho-chang, replied by saying that the spending of donations was already made public through the foundation. He also said the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy and Beautiful Foundation were completely separate organizations, and Kang’s linking of the two was groundless and irresponsible.

After Park won the primary to represent the liberals in the by-election on Oct. 26, the Democrats rallied around him and the GNP found new topics.

The latest attack focused on Park’s alleged wishy-washiness on national security.

In a debate against GNP nominee Na Kyung-won on Monday, Park was asked about his view on the sinking of the Cheonan in March 2010.

“I believe the North was the culprit,” Park said, “but there are many who do not trust the government conclusion.” Park also said, “The Lee administration provoked the North and innocent sailors were killed.”

GNP spokesman Kim Ki-hyun condemned Park yesterday for “blaming the South Korean government for the North’s attack,” and labeled him “a defense attorney for the North.”

Woo Sang-ho, a spokesman for Park’s campaign, criticized the GNP for whipping up the ideological divide. “The GNP attempted to use the Cheonan’s sinking politically during local elections last year, but failed,” Woo said.

The GNP is also accusing Park of dodging the draft, and GNP Chairman Hong Joon-pyo personally made that accusation.

In 1969, Park, 13 at the time, was adopted into the family of his grandfather’s brother, who was missing after having been conscripted as a wartime laborer during the Japanese occupation.

Park was adopted as the son of the missing man. The Military Service Act gave special treatment to young men from families in which the head of the household was missing, and Park served only six months of reservist duty.

Hong and other GNP officials said the adoption was a deliberate attempt to dodge the draft. “This adoption is illegitimate because Park and his father became cousins after the adoption,” Hong pointed out. “That’s why Korea does not allow such an adoption and it is illegal.”

Woo criticized the GNP for using the tragic family history to attack Park. According to Woo, the purpose of the adoption was so the missing man would have a son to perform ancestral rites for the family, a Confucius tradition in Korea.

The GNP has also raised questions about Park’s wealth.

“Park and his wife have 588 million won in debt, and Park reported to the National Election Commission that his wealth is a negative 372 million won,” said Ahn Hyoung-hwan, a spokesman of Na’s campaign.

“But Park is living in a luxurious apartment in southern Seoul’s Bangbae-dong and spends 30 million won a year for rent. Who can explain this?”

Park’s campaign said that Park’s wife supports the family with her interior design business.

Park was also accused of lying about his educational background. Ahn said Park never registered with the college of law at Seoul National University, but says he was a law school dropout.

According to Ahn, Park wrote in a book that he was expelled from the college in 1975 for participating in protests against the Park Chung Hee regime. Over the past decade, the media has frequently reported that Park was a SNU law school dropout, and Park has never made an attempt to correct them, Ahn said.

“Park is a lawyer and he knows that a falsified educational record can be reason enough to invalidate an election victory,” Ahn said.

“Park has never said with his own mouth that he was a dropout of the Seoul National University law school,” said spokesman Woo. “Park entered the university as a social studies freshman, but he was expelled before deciding his major. He went to the school with an aim to study law. That’s why he said he was admitted to the college of law.”

Park later entered Dankook University and graduated in 1985 with a degree in history.


By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]


한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

한나라 “빚 4억 박원순 … 한 달 생활비 1500만원 어떻게 마련하나”

재산, 자녀유학·법대전과 놓고 공방

한나라당은 11일 서울시장 보궐선거에 야권 단일후보로 나선 박원순 변호사에 대해 집중공격을 퍼부었다. 박 후보가 막대한 채무를 안고 월세 250만원의 아파트에 살면서 생활하는 게 어떻게 가능할까 하는 의문을 제기하면서다. 박 후보는 7일 선거관리위원회에 후보 등록을 하면서 자신의 부채는 5억8814만원으로, 예금 등을 빼면 3억7000여만원의 빚을 지고 있다는 내용의 재산 내역을 밝혔다.

 ◆생활비 어떻게 충당하나=한나라당 김성태 의원은 국회 대정부 질문에서 “박 후보 정도의 빚을 지고 월세 250만원, 대출금 이자 294만원, 자녀 생활비 290만원에 두 대의 차량 유지비 등 생활비를 감안하면 한 달에 최소 1500만원은 써야 한다”며 “빚이 4억원에 가까운 사람이 충당할 수 있는 금액은 아니다”고 말했다. <표 참조>

 부인 강모씨가 빌린 ‘사인 간의 채무’ 4억2000만원에 대해 박 후보는 “이자를 나중에 지급하기로 한 것”이라고 말했다. 이를 빼면 매달 내야 할 이자는 86만원 수준이다. 박 후보 측 관계자는 “강연료와 인세 등의 수입이 있어 생활비 정도는 충당할 여유가 있다”고 주장했다. 또 "박 후보의 딸은 장학재단으로부터 생활비조로 매달 215만원을 받는다”고 했다. 그러나 박 후보는 인터뷰 등에서 생활비 충당에 대해 “부인(강모씨)이 인테리어 사업을 하면서 보탰다”고 했다. 그러나 11일 오전 서울 강남구 신사동 한 빌딩 3층에 있는 피앤피디자인 사무실의 문은 닫혀 있었다.

 ◆창녕 농지 담보로 대출받아=중앙일보 확인 결과 박 후보는 5월 13일 경남 창녕군 장마면 장가리 1173-8, 1173-22 두 필지의 농지(논, 합계 3415㎡)를 담보로 창녕 축협에서 5000만원(채권 최고액 6500만원)의 대출을 받았다. 박 후보는 7일 재산 공개 당시 이 대출금은 밝히지 않았다.

 박 후보 측은 최근 “2008년 부인의 사업이 잘 안 돼 창녕 토지를 담보로 대출을 받았다”고 밝힌 바 있다. 그러나 등기부등본엔 해당 토지를 담보로 한 대출은 올해 5월 이전에는 없는 걸로 나와 있다. 박 후보 측은 “재산공개에서 누락된 이유는 기준 시점이 지난해 12월 말이기 때문”이라며 “2008년이라는 시점은 실무진이 잘못 알았던 것”이라고 해명했다.

 ◆딸 전과·유학 과정=한나라당은 박 후보의 딸(28)이 서울대에 다녔을 때 전공을 바꾼 과정이 석연찮다고 주장한다. 박 후보의 딸은 2002년 서울대 디자인학부에 입학한 뒤 2006년 법학부로 옮겼다. 2002~2009년 법학부 전과생 308명 중 미술대학 출신으론 박 후보 딸이 유일하다. 서울대의 전과생 선발 기준은 ▶학업성적 ▶필기시험 ▶면접이다. 박 후보 딸은 전과하기 전까지 주로 교양과목 강의를 들었다고 한다. 비교적 학점이 후한 과목 위주로 ‘학점관리’를 한 것 같다고 학교 측 관계자는 말했다. 서울대 법학부의 안경환·한인섭·조국 교수 등은 박 후보가 속했던 ‘참여연대’에서 활동한 학자들이다. 서울대 측은 “면접에 참가한 교수들의 명단은 밝힐 수 없지만 전과 과정에 전혀 문제가 없다”고 했다. 박 후보의 딸은 한스 빌스도르프 재단으로부터 장학금을 받아 올해 7월부터 스위스 제네바 아카데미 법학석사(LLM) 과정에 다니고 있다. 이 재단은 스위스의 시계 업체인 롤렉스 창업자(한스 빌스도르프)가 만들었다. 장학금 규모는 3만5000스위스프랑(약 5410만원)이다.

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