Outrage over Park and Kim’s deceitNational Assembly Speaker Park Hee-tae has finally resigned after persistently denying allegations surrounding the distribution of envelopes with 3 million won ($2,700) each during campaigns for the leadership election of the ruling Grand National Party (now renamed the Saenuri Party) in 2008. The six-term lawmaker, formerly a prosecutor and justice minister, faces a disgraceful end to a glorious political life.
In a press release read by a National Assembly spokesman, Park said that he will take responsibility for the scandal but did not admit guilt. He had to make the apology after his aide, Goh Myeong-jin, made a frank confession and Kim Hyo-jae - then Park’s campaign director and now the senior secretary for political affairs to President Lee Myung-bak - also turned out to have lied about the scandal. Park must not forget that unless he behaves honorably, a more disgraceful fate awaits him.
When whistleblower Koh Seung-duk made the accusation of the vote-buying attempt within the ruling party, Park and Kim should have told the truth immediately. If they had done so, they could have been exempted from criticism that they attempted to cheat the public - which is outraged by the deception.
Speaker Park and Kim must reveal what they did when Goh Myeong-jin said to prosecutors that he spent the money after the 3 million won envelope had been returned by lawmaker Koh. Park’s secretary Goh said at the time, “I had to make the decision to confess after a responsible man attempted to escape the crisis by scapegoating his subordinate.” Regarding who the responsible man is, Goh explained that the man’s lie has resulted in this crisis, pointing to Kim, who said he had never met lawmaker Koh.
If Kim had tried to attribute the mishap to Goh, who personally delivered the envelope to lawmaker Koh, it’s common sense that he consulted with Park over the delivery of the envelopes to lawmakers. Both Kim and Park may have wanted to prevent it from becoming a bigger problem for President Lee.
Speaker Park said he will bear responsibility for the scandal. But what the people want from him is not political rhetoric. They want to know exactly what Park and Kim did at the time of the national convention to pick the new party leadership; why they had to spend black money; where the money came from; and any potential connections with President Lee. Park and Kim must confess to what they did in full detail and voluntarily ask for punishment for their actions.