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[Opinion] Jangsuchun, the President’s Former Bottled Water Company, and Cheong Wa Dae

[Opinion] Jangsuchun, the President’s Former Bottled Water Company, and Cheong Wa Dae

Posted July. 19, 2005 03:22,   


President Roh Moo-hyun became the owner of Jangsuchun, a bottled water company, in 1997 during his Millennium Democratic Party days. He stated that he acquired this company in order to finance his presidential campaign. However after he became owner, the water quality of the company worsened and debts piled up. Finally, the company was auctioned off in 2001 and the company changed its name to “Natural Drinks.”

“Jangsuchun” has become famous since the launch of the participatory government. Choi Do-sul, Sun Bong-sul, Ahn Hee-jung, and others who were directly or indirectly involved in the management of the company were either investigated by the public prosecutor or served time for accepting illegal money around the time of the 2002 presidential election. It was said during the trial that the presidential funding was used to write off company debt. It seemed as though the bottled water business, which was originally used to enable “clean politics,” ultimately became trouble. However, looking into the story, things are not as they seem.

The August issue of the monthly magazine “Shindonga,” which hit the stands yesterday, looks into the employment status of nine former employees. Four of them work at Cheong Wa Dae, and the others work for public corporations or organizations that have close government ties. One receives over one hundred million won working at an organization that has no relation to his major or experience. Many people who have financially supported “Jangsuchun” are still doing very well. “Jangsuchun” must still have some influence.

“The Secretariat and others say they will leave Cheong Wa Dae after they are promoted in November. I try to give them moral support by calling them provincial governor or district governor.” This is a statement made a few days ago by Kim Doo-gwan, special aide to the president for political affairs. If by his words, Cheong Wa Dae is working as an “incubator” to nurture candidates for next year’s local elections. Some ‘live long’ because they worked for “Jangsuchun” (“Fountain of Youth” in Korean). Are these the reforms and the system that this administration was emphasizing?

Song Young-eon, Editorial Writer youngeon@donga.com