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[Focus] Poorly arranged visit to DC

Posted January. 22, 2001 17:44,   


About 20 Korean lawmakers attended Saturday`s inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C. for new U.S. President George W. Bush.

They included Reps. Hahn Hwa-Kap, Rhee In-Je, Chyung Dai-Chul, Park Sang-Cheon, Kim Keun-Tae and Chung Dong-Young, all Supreme Council members of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party (MDP).

Attendees from the opposition Grand National Party (GNP) were vice presidents Reps. Kim Deog-Ryong and Park Geun-Hye, and Rep. Park Myung-Hwan, chairman of the National Assembly Unification and Foreign Affairs-Trade Committee. Rep. Kim Jong-Pil, honorary chairman of the splinter United Liberal Democrats (ULD) also visited Washington for the ceremony and is now in New York.

The politicians, mostly leading members of their respective parties, came under fire from the public for rushing abroad to witness the inauguration.

ULD honorary chairman Kim Jong-Pil and MDP Supreme Council member Hahn Hwa-Kap met with former U.S. President George Bush at a dinner hosted by former U.S. secretary of state James Baker on Friday, and delivered to President George W. Bush an invitation from President Kim Dae-Jung to visit Korea.

Hahn, Rhee In-Je and Kim Keun-Tae gave lectures at a number of U.S. think tanks and universities, among which was Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and many of the lawmakers met with former U.S. ambassador to Korea James Lilley and former U.S. undersecretary of defense Richard Armitage to exchange views on prospects for Korea-U.S. relations under the Bush administration.

However, none of the visiting lawmakers met major Cabinet members or high-ranking officials of the Bush administration.

Rumor has it that some of the lawmakers obtained tickets to the inauguration ceremony, which were distributed free of charge to major party donors, but most analysts denied the suggestion.

Tickets traded on the Internet were priced at several hundred dollars each, and many seats remained unoccupied due to bad weather.