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[Editorial] Suspicions Surrounding PM Growing

Posted March. 11, 2006 02:59,   


Suspicions surrounding Prime Minister Lee on his controversial golf outing are growing by the day. Premier Lee and his aides are adding to the suspicions rather than clarifying them.

It has also been reported that Prime Minister Lee and his aides bet one million won. Formerly, vice education minister Lee Ki-woo denied having gambled during golf, but that turned out to be false.

A worker at the golf course confirmed that the participants made a one million won bet, and some participants argued that it was a 400,000 won bet, provided by Kang Byoung-joong, chairman of Pusan Broadcasting.

No matter which side is telling the truth, Lee is facing public criticism because he played golf with some “problematic” local businessmen at an inappropriate time. Also, suspicions surrounding the golf game are growing, as participants are reversing what they have already said.

It was also revealed that Prime Minister Lee received four million won in April 2004 from Yoo Won-gi, head of Youngnam Flour Mills, but falsely reported to the National Election Commission that Yoo’s son gave him the money. If Yoo does not have an illicit relationship with Prime Minister Lee, and if he does not have anything to hide, there would have been no need to falsify a report.

Yoo associated with Lee’s close aides whenever he faced difficulty, or when he needed help in business, like the time when he was released from prison in January 2003 for rigging stock prices. Also, the Korea Exchange (KRX) was investigating Yoo for manipulating stock prices in his company in September 2004 when Yoo played golf with Prime Minister Lee for the first time. There were no charges filed against him.

Yoo played golf twice in the second half of last year with vice minister Lee and Kim Pyoung-soo, chairman of The Korean Teachers’ Credit Union (KTCU).

At the time, Yoo gained billions of won in profit by selling 1.95 million shares when stock prices soared after KTCU aggressively accumulating Youngnam Flour Mills stocks.

He was also ordered to pay 3.5 billion won for fixing prices in collusion with other companies by the Fair Trade Commission the day after the golf game. However, he wasn’t prosecuted, causing a controversy.

Lee may not be directly linked with these incidents, but people doubt him because he is associating with the people in question.

Prime Minister Lee cancelled his scheduled speech at a ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of the Federation of Korea Trade Unions, showing that it is difficult for Lee to tend to his official duties as prime minister.