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Money Wiring Scandal, Pressure On

Posted June. 15, 2003 21:59,   


Independent Counsel Song Doo-hwan, Currently investigating Kim Dae Jung`s alleged secret checkbook diplomacy with Kim Jung Il, reportedly summoned former Minister of Culture and Tourism Park Ji-won in for questioning early today. Park, a powerful figure during the Kim administration, is suspected of having played a key role in the wiring of money ahead of the summit between the two Kims.

Along with Park, the Counsel will also bring in four other key people such as former National Security Service director Lim Dong-won, former presidential economic aide Lee Kee-ho, Hyundai Asan chairman Chung Mong-hun and former Hyundai Securities chairman Lee Ik-chi for questioning.

The Counsel`s office has decided to submit a formal request to President Roh for extension of the term of the Counsel.

Independent Counsel Song is reported to have interrogated Park today looking into whether Kim Dae Jung had knowledge of the money transfer in advance, what reason Seoul and Pyongyang had preliminary talks before the summit, why Lee Kee-ho and Lim Dong-won had a secret meeting immediately prior to the summit and what was discussed at the meeting, and what role Park played in forcing Korea Industry Bank to offer a multi-million dollar loan to Hyundai.

A source familiar with the ongoing investigation confirmed that "Independent Counsel Song now knows what was done prior to the summit in April, 2000. To clear some lingering doubt, Park has been summoned for questioning."

Park testified last October before Congress that he did not meet North Korea’s high-ranking official Song Ho-kyung in Singapore on March 9, 2000, which later turned out to be a lie. The Independent Counsel wants to question him on that point, as well.

Park has been suspected of having cut a secret deal with North Korea`s Song. Park reportedly met the North Korean for two days in Singapore to discuss money matters and the upcoming summit. Contrary to vehement denial, Park confessed in former President Kim Dae-jung’s a speech broadcast nationwide, "At the time, North Korea requested that the meeting [in Singapore] remain a secret. In consideration of diplomatic matters, we did not make it public knowledge."

leon@donga.com jarrett@donga.com