Go to contents

[Editorial] Golf Scandal Lies

Posted March. 07, 2006 03:35,   


We are hearing lie after lie from people trying to hide the truth regarding Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan’s golf scandal. Previously, the Prime Minister’s Office explained that the golf meeting had been organized for the minister to meet with the leadership of the Busan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and discuss ways to vitalize the regional economy. But if that were true, they would not have had to lie about the organizer or hide the list of attendees at the meeting.

The chairman of the Busan Chamber of Commerce said that he had not been aware of Lee’s coming to Busan until he got an urgent call of invitation. As the meeting caused controversy, letters of explanation were issued to the media to clarify that the golf meeting had been planed two months ahead by Busan businessmen. Suspicions remain.

It has been confirmed that Deputy Education Minister Lee Ki-woo and the chairman of the Youngnam Flour Mills Company were present at the meeting. Witnesses are saying that the chairman played golf with Lee in the same group, but the attendees are not being consistent with their stories. It is hard to understand why they tried to hide the names of the attendees of a “golf meeting to discuss economic revitalization.”

When the prime minister was the education minister, Deputy Minister Lee served as a director at the ministry until becoming director general of the Korea Teachers’ Credit Union (KTCU). After the prime minister took office, Lee was appointed chief secretary. Considering the facts found so far, Lee seems to have led or been deeply involved with organizing the golf meeting. While working as the director general of KTCU, he bought a seven percent stake in the Youngnam Flour Mills Company.

Pension funds or credit unions can be useful source of money for companies, as they can make large investments without threatening management. The next day after the golf meeting on March 1, Youngnam Flour Mills Company was indicted for price fixing and hit with a 3.5 billion won fine levied by the Fair Trade Commission.

Prime Minister Lee’s golf group that day included local business leaders with ties to close associates of President Roh Moo-hyun and educational leaders directly or indirectly related to the prime minister. In that case, questions linger over whether President Roh was aware of this meeting and who paid for it. The prime minister is not giving a clear answer. Regardless of whether Prime Minister Lee resigns or not, more needs to be found out about the scandal.