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Ambassador Hong Meets the Press after Resignation

Posted July. 28, 2005 11:38,   


The former Korean Ambassador to the U.S., Hong Seok-hyun, who recently resigned, came to the embassy of Korea in Washington D.C. on July 26 and spoke with Korean correspondents for a moment. Hong lunched with five minister-level officials belonging to the embassy, including political minister Wi Sung-lac, economic minister Choe Jong-hwa, and public information minister O Soo-dong.

Hong showed a bright expression to Korean correspondents, saying, “Doesn’t my face look good?” Embassy officials conveyed that the atmosphere of the luncheon meeting was not so bad.

An embassy official also delivered some quotes from Hong uttered during the meeting. The official quoted Hong as saying, “In light of my role in which I have so far tried to achieve a regional concord between Jeolla Province and Gyeongsang Province, and Inter-Korean reconciliation, I might play a certain role in such fields.”

The official stressed that Hong did not make the remark while bearing a specific position in mind.

When Hong held a news conference with some correspondents in March on the condition of it being “off the record,” he expressed his view on the Sunshine Policy. Hong, however, like the luncheon meeting on July 26, has never directly mentioned his role in the regional concord between Jeolla Province and Gyeongsang Province and the Inter-Korean reconciliation.

Some are keeping their eyes on President Roh Moo-hyun’s remark that “it is regrettable, since Hong has amicably fulfilled his duty in his capacity as the ambassador to the U.S. at this critical time,” after being informed of the news of Hong’s resignation by Presidential Chief of Staff Kim Woo-sik. It is being interpreted that the relations between President Roh and Hong will not be totally severed.

During the luncheon meeting on the same day, Hong reportedly expressed his responsibility and regret over the “X-File” scandal.

According to an embassy official, Hong said that he regarded his past activities, in which he was somewhat implicated in delivering campaign funds ahead of the 1997 presidential election, as his retribution and a blemish.

The official also quoted Hong as saying, “I deeply reflected on my conduct during the 1997 presidential election, and after that, I have tried to live a new life.” Hong had also said during a meeting with Korean correspondents in March, “I was considerably bound up with the then ruling presidential candidate Lee Hoi-chang in 1997, and considered the investigation into tax evasion in 1999 by the prosecution my nemesis stemming from the close relations with Lee Hoi-chang,” adding, “That incident taught me a lesson.”

Hong reportedly said, “Since the situation raised by the X-File targeted my past wrongdoings including the way I was stripped after I was put behind bars on a charge of tax evasion in 1999, it is a far cry from my current existence.”

Seung-Ryun Kim srkim@donga.com