Go to contents

Former Presidential Aide Lee Kee-Ho Grilled for His Role in Checkbook Diplomacy

Former Presidential Aide Lee Kee-Ho Grilled for His Role in Checkbook Diplomacy

Posted May. 28, 2003 21:27,   


It has transpired that Kim Dae Jung and his administration actively got involved in Hyundai Merchant Marine`s obtaining the 400-billion loan from Korea Industrial Bank, which took place just before the North-South summit in June of 2000. The finding is especially notable because it can support the allegation that Hyundai`s wiring the money to the Kim Jung Il regime was ordered by Kim Dae Jung for his compensation for Kim Jung Il`s acceptance of the summit proposal.

Former head of the Financial Supervisory Service Lee Keun-young, who was the head of the bank at that time, stated during the bail hearing held yesterday at the Seoul District Court, "On June 5th, 2000, former Hyundai president Kim Choong-shik visited our bank to apply for the loan. He told me, `The government sent me here. I heard a call form the Blue House.`"

Lee also said, "While reviewing the loan application, I got phone calls from former Presidential Economy Aide Lee Kee-ho and Chief of Staff Han Kwong-ok. I thought the President wanted it. That was why I approved the loan application."

His statement strongly supports the allegation that the Kim Dae Jung Blue House directly orchestrated all the matters regarding the loan. Therefore, it will serve as a critical piece of evidence proving the secret wiring of the money to North Korea was for buying the North-South summit.

At the May 23rd arraignment, Lee Keun-young also argued, "At a meeting held on June 3rd in Seoul, former aide Lee strongly requested that I should approve the loan, since Hyundai`s insolvency would harm the summit. Right after the meeting, former Chief of Staff Han called me and asked for my favor for Hyundai."

As part of the investigation, Independent Counsel Song Doo-hwan summoned former aide Lee Kee-ho yesterday morning for questioning.

The Counsel`s office grilled Lee to find out why he repeatedly asked Lee Keun-young to approve the loan to Hyundai in June of 2000, and whether he had a knowledge that the money would be sent to North Korea to buy a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jung il.

Former aide Lee reportedly stated during interrogation, "I just considered various effects that might be possibly caused by Hyundai`s filing bankruptcy. I had no knowledge whatsoever about where the money would be spent." The Independent Counsel`s office reportedly plans to indict former aide Lee on charges including abuse of authority, once it secures evidence that former aide Lee pressured Korea Industrial Bank into allowing the loan to Hyundai.

Independent Counsel Song also called in former vice-president Park Sang-bae again, and examined what role he played in approving the loan to Hyundai, and why he supported Hyundai financially by buying Hyundai`s bonds.

leon@donga.com jaykim@donga.com