Ruling party strips former NIS chief of membership

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Ruling party strips former NIS chief of membership

The Saenuri Party on Monday formally expelled the disgraced former head of the main spy agency, Kim Man-bok, ending his 103-day membership in the conservative ruling party.

“The Supreme Council officially approved the expulsion of Kim,” said Rep. Won Yoo-chul, floor leader of the Saenuri Party, after a party leadership meeting.

Kim, who served as the director of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) under the Roh Moo-hyun administration, joined the Saenuri Party by sending his application by fax to the Gwangjin District Chapter of the party in Seoul on Aug. 27. The party largely welcomed Kim’s joining at first, despite a series of scandals involving him.

The party’s position changed after suspicions were raised that Kim campaigned for the main opposition party in a by-election after joining the Saenuri. Kim was accused of supporting a candidate of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy in an Oct. 28 by-election.

On Nov. 10, the ethics committee of the Saenuri Party recommended Kim give up his membership. Kim refused.

He said he didn’t know he had been accepted by the party at the time of the by-election. He made an appeal on Nov. 18.

The Saenuri Party held more ethics committee meetings on Nov. 19 and 21 and reviewed his appeal. Kim attended the meeting and directly pleaded his case, but his argument was not accepted.

“The party rejected Kim’s appeal on Nov. 21 and recommended again he give up his membership,” said Rep. Hong Moon-pyo, secretary-general of the Saenuri Party. “We informed him about the decision on Nov. 23. He, however, did not surrender his membership by a Dec. 3 deadline, so the Supreme Council voted to kick him out.”

Kim distributed Monday an 18-page appeal to the press to continue his appeal. He also said he will leave a possibility open to run in the April general election in his hometown of Busan as an independent candidate if he cannot remain a Saenuri member.

From November 2006 to February 2008, Kim headed the NIS. He accompanied President Roh to North Korea in October 2007 for the inter-Korean summit.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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