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Peace Center Dinner Bill Questioned

Posted June. 16, 2006 03:08,   


The Kim Dae-jung Peace Center (DJ Center) was revealed to have received backroom donations (100 million won) from economic organizations more than three times the amount it spent on a dinner commemorating the sixth anniversary of the June 15 Joint Declaration.

Although the center took 100 thousand won from each of the attendees, it asked business organizations for more financial support, which is likely to spark controversies over the leftover money.

This paper has found out that the dinner cost less than 30 million won in total, coordinated by the DJ Center at the Plaza Hotel in Taepyeongno, Seoul on June 15.

At the event, the center provided Chinese dishes worth 72,000 won per person (tax and service fees added) but served wine and alcohol were purchased outside the hotel.

Even though the center informed the Korean Chamber of the Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and Korean International Trade Associations (KITA) in writing that about 400 celebrities were expected to join, it reserved only 200 seats in the hotel. The actual figure, however, turned out to be 250. The center is thought to have paid 20 million won at the maximum for all expenses.

The DJ Peace Center said it paid two singers, Kim Guk-hwan and Shin Hyeong-won, for their performance at the event.

However, Kim’s wife said in a telephone interview with this paper, “I understand that (my husband’s) performance was not paid because he thought the event was historically meaningful.” Shin made no comment on the performance guarantee.

The host allegedly made up most of the cost with 100 thousand won admission fees from a handful of attendants who are mostly former or current high-ranking officials.

Choi Gyeong-hwan, secretary of public relationship for the DJ Peace Center, told a reporter of this paper, “We called for financial support due to the insufficient budget,” and insisted, the total cost was approximately 100 million won including dinner preparation, postal fees, telephone charges and other administration expenses.”

However, considering what it actually paid to the hotel, the entire budget is likely thought to be as little as 30 million won.

Business circles deem it as too much that the KCCI and KITA financed 50 million won respectively for the ceremony, given that the two organizations usually operate 300-500 million won as the budget supporting outside cooperation.

An insider of business circles pointed out, “I feel doubt that the DJ Center is clean-handed because it demanded a sizable sum of money despite enough donation to run for the event.”

Jeong-Hun Park sunshade@donga.com