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Controversy over President Kim’s New Luxurious House

Posted September. 12, 2002 23:23,   


As a new house is being built in Donggyo-dong, Seoul, for President Kim to live in after leaving the office, controversy is arising over the new home. Some people criticize that the new house is too luxurious.

Weekly Dong-A released exclusively the plan for the new house in its recent 19th issue, and then the Grand National Party (GNP) raised a question over the ethics of President Kim Dae-jung (DJ). The weekly magazine reported that the new house would have a total space of 199 p’yŏng (1 p’yŏng = 3.954 sq. yds.) and it would have 8 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, 3 living rooms, 5 rooms for storage, an elevator and an indoor garden.

In a high-level party meeting on Thursday, Secretary General of the GNP Kim Yeong-il said, “I could not understand why the house for the old couple over age 80 should be so large and luxurious. The public suspects that the money for the construction was made in an illegal way.”

He also quoted Park Seon-suk, then deputy spokesperson for the National Congress for New Politics (NCNP) as saying for the new home to be built in Sangdo-dong of then President Kim Yeong-sam (YS) in a statement, “If the president is worrying about the future after he steps down, he should concentrate on his own job of administration, rather than building a secure house using as much as 800 million won.” He added that DJ should keep in mind the statement.

The new house of YS, Which was the target of the attack by the NCNP, has a floor space of 100 p’yŏng and has 4 bedrooms, half the size of DJ’s future house in Donggyo-dong, Seoul. Then DJ was the president of the NCNP.

“Though it is somewhat understandable that DJ needs an elevator because he is not easy in movement, what is the difference between his new home and the grand, luxurious palace of the first emperor Qin Shinuang given that DJ’s house has a magnificent indoor garden?” said Nam Geong-pil, spokesman of the GNP. He also requested for DJ to speak of how much money will be used for the house, saying the construction cost will amount to 3 billion won, though the cost in the construction contract is 830 million won.

However, a Chong Wa Dae official dismissed his request, saying, “The president already made public the details of the construction, such as the land size, floor space, construction cost, financial sources and time of construction, and he don’t need to respond to political maneuvering of the GNP.

Jong-Hoon Lee taylor55@donga.com