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There is No Way to Escape …

Posted October. 22, 2003 22:43,   


The opposition Grand National Party (GNP) started its own fact-finding research and plans for the countermeasures accordingly as Rep. Choi Don-woong admitted having received money from SK Group on October 22.

In the interim party leadership meeting presided by Choe Byung-yul yesterday morning, the GNP decided to make a public apology as a first step. Now that Rep. Choi Don-woong acknowledged his suspicion on receiving illegal funds, the party estimated that it would be difficult to close its eyes to the facts. On top of that, considering the general election next year, the GNP regarded it as more realistic to accept as it is and is determined to apologize promptly in order not to take a blow from this in the near future.

“Holding an umbrella is not enough when being caught in a shower,” Secretary of GNP Chairman Lim Tae-hee spoke out. “No matter what the fact is, we cannot help getting wet at this point.”

For the moment, the GNP is likely to accept the fact that Rep. Choi had received the money. However, the party moderated not to make an official announcement since a detailed investigation has not come out yet. The party leader especially requested the attendees of the Wednesday’s leadership meeting for “being cautious on their words” regarding the scandal.

“The important thing is to confirm the fact whether it really took place,” Party spokesman Rep. Park Jin said after the interim meeting. “Once the precise results turn out based on the prosecution’s thorough investigation, the party will announce its official statement.”

But the question still remains in the situation which all the possible suspects that might receive money kept denying the suspicion even though it has been rumored that a “private body is involved.” One of the aides of former GNP chairman Lee Hwe-chang said, “Lee will go over and disclose his statement when the prosecution’s investigation is almost done.” But, he stressed, “It is sure that Lee and his people have nothing to do with SK group’s money.”

Lee Heung-joo, former special aide who operated Chairman Lee’s personal support committee also asserted, “There has not been one coin which flowed into our office. Our committee had been operated fairly within law and regulation. ”

Meanwhile, Rep. Shim Kyu-chul, a legal advisor to Rep. Choi said, “Choi told me that former chairman Lee once made a phone call to him during the presidential election period and warned him, ‘I’ve heard you call some people but don’t get deeply engaged in the money problems.’”

This may be interpreted that Lee had controlled his aides and GNP lawmakers not to raise unofficial funds for the presidential election, but on the other side, it indicates that Lee might have been aware of the party’s collection status for the election to some degree.

Min-Hyuk Park mhpark@donga.com