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Park Ji-won Disputes with Prosecutor

Posted December. 21, 2004 23:07,   


Park Ji-won, former minister of Culture and Tourism, who was pronounced not guilty on the accusation that he received 15 billion won of Hyundai slush fund by the Supreme Court of Korea on November 12, showed up at court yesterday.

The first hearing on Park’s trial was carried out by the Seoul High Court. Park, who has not been arrested because of glaucoma treatment, appeared wearing a black coat over a white patient’s costume. Also wearing a mask, he did not answer any of the reporters’ questions. Park did not use a wheelchair, seemingly in better condition.

The prosecutors, although saying that they need more time to prepare for the interrogation and asking for a change of dates, have sharply cornered the former minister.

Especially on the subject of Park’s ex-driver Roh’s different testimony from that of former Hyundai Securities President Lee Ik-chi’s in regards to handing money to Park at P Hotel in 2000, there was even an emotional clash.

Prosecutor Lee Byeong-seok of Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office asked, “There was construction work going on behind P Hotel. Does the fact that the driver doesn’t remember this means that he has a bad memory?” Park replied, “It is disrespectful to say somebody has a bad memory just because he cannot remember.”

The prosecutor added, “It is doubtful that Lee, who graduated from Kyunggi High School and Seoul National University, should remember the construction site because he is an elite and others who are not can not remember.” Park said, “It is unfair to refer to the names of schools that one graduated from in this sort of case. Lee changed his statement four or five times in the trials.”

Prosecutors also showed that Park paid 10 million won per month for his meals in cash and asked for the origin of the money. To this, Park replied, “I was helped by my brothers and friends living in America and also my seniors. I do not think it fair to report fully due to the helpers’ naivety.”

The court, taking into account the prosecutor’s request, has postponed the trial until 2:30 pm January 25.