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High-ranking Officials` Luxurious Binge Made the Public Speechless

High-ranking Officials` Luxurious Binge Made the Public Speechless

Posted May. 22, 2003 22:01,   


Korean people has been infuriated at the news that 3 high-profile politicians, representing ruling and opposite parties went on a prodigal drinking binge at a Gangnam roomsalon after their dinner meeting with President Roh Moo-hyun.

Many pointed out the sobering news as a testimony to the wide spread moral hazard among Korean political circle. Days have passed since 19 when ethics guideline was given to government workers to promote integrity, which prohibited receiving free meals worth over 30,000 won from others.

Dinner meeting was over at around 8 p.m. yesterday. Chung Dae-chul of the Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) proposed Kim Jong-pil, president of the United Liberal Democrats (ULD) for a drink, saying, “You asked for a union between ruling and opposite party heads at Chongnamdae dinner last month. How about having drinks today?”. Then, JP and Rep. Pak Hee-tae of Grand National Party joined instantly and headed to a roomsalon where JP proposed.

They also called Yu In-tae, presidential chief secretary who was preparing the briefing after the dinner at Chongwadae to join them. Allegedly, Yu asked for another place, saying, “The bar is too expensive”, but the politicians at the bar said back, “The senior`s decision can not be revised”.

Among the ten partygoers, were three party presidents, a chief presidential secretary, a spokesman, and Yu. During two and a half hour party, 3 bottles of 17-year-old Valentines, 40 to 50 bottled beers were consumed. Side dishes included fried chicken strips, a relish of dried meat and fish, fruit, and so on. A participant told that five to six glasses of boilermaker were served for one while another said that: “the three party heads were nearly alike in drinking capacity. They each must have consumed way over 7 shots of boilermaker.”

At least seven young and charming hostesses reportedly served them. For each, 300,000 won was tipped. Chung picked up the tab, which would be totaled more or less at 7 million won.

Denouncing remarks spilled over on the websites of the three parties and the media. Irritated netizens condemned Chung, saying “how can ruling party members enjoying drinking sprees while the president struggle for the nation” and Pak, charging, “Is a roomsalon party OK for you who once censured those who played golf during the nation`s economy in trouble?”. Korean people also pointed their fingers at JP, questioning “do you intend to revive the past corrupt tradition of `roomsalon politics`?”

Lee Jung-sik, Social Democracy Party spokesperson announced, “The public anger can no longer be bottled up as was drink bottles of the public officials at salons”. In a commentary, Democratic Labor Party charged, “The reckless behavior would not have been possible if they had a slight consideration of the daily struggles the public suffer.”

Hyung-gwon Pu bookum90@donga.com