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Namhae Government Earmarked 10 Mln won for Namhae Ilbo

Posted March. 12, 2003 22:21,   


In response to the March 6 Dong-a Ilbo report that the Minister of Government Administration and Home Affairs abused his status at Namhae Ilbo to attack his opponent during the 1995 local elections, Minister Kim rejected the story as groundless. Dong-a Ilbo reported that Kim, working as CEO of the local newspaper company, ordered managers to print a larger number of copies of its daily edition, which contained an article criticizing his opponent.

“Dong-a Ilbo`s report was not true and I did not print a single additional copy,” Kim said, in a statement.

According to a further investigation, however, the newspaper company printed at least 1,000 more copies. Dong-a Ilbo`s exclusive report found that the Namhae local government allocated 10 million won for the newspaper company in 1994 under the rubric of `promotion of local newspapers.`

Namhae Ilbo, the only local paper at the time, arranged its `Local Government News` section in early 1994 and reported on government activities over the following ten months.

˝Most local newspapers were given government funds for what they called the role of public enlightenment, but Namhae did not want the fund, which is probably why the governor decided to earmark the budget in return for the government news section,˝ explained Kim Kwang-seok, editor at Namhae Ilbo. ˝It could have caused big trouble, but we did not have as strict ethics as we do now.˝

When asked about the budget allocation, Minister Kim replied that he “didn`t remember.˝ Park Dong-wan, chief secretary of the minister who was an editor at the newspaper at the time, explained, ˝We drew up a one-year contract after the government made an offer.˝

The bookkeeping record on advertising expenses from 1994 through 1996 showed that Naehae government-related advertisements, which numbered only 5 cases worth 1.77 million won in the first half of 1995, soared to 12 cases worth 4.35 million won after Minister Kim became governor. The government advertisements were worth 2.25 million won (11 cases) in 1994, but more than doubled to 6.12 million won and 4.9 million won in 1995 and in 1996 respectively.

On June 16, 1995, when the minister was running for governorship in the region, the company printed at least 1,000 more copies than usual. The inflated edition contained a story about the alleged wrongdoings of Kim`s opponent in the race.

Dong-a Ilbo checked the details of the receipt issued by Kyungnam Ilbo, which printed copies of the newspaper at that time, and found that the printing cost for earlier editions was 1.65 million won but on that day, it was 1.7 million won.

˝By today`s estimates, 50,000 won is equal to 1,000 copies, but I am sure how many copies they printed for 50,000 won,˝ said Suh Jung-sang, a manager at Kyungnam Ilbo. According to paper manufacturer Hansol, 50,000 won was worth 20,000 copies before the 1997 financial crisis.

˝We got a call from the office upstairs as we printed paper and they told us that we needed a larger volume,˝ said two employees, who worked for Namhae Ilbo and were at the printing house at that time. ˝We could not remember clearly, but it was about 20,000 copies.˝

˝When I said there was not a single additional copy, I said so because I never gave such an instruction,˝ Minister Kim explained.

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