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[Opinion] Abuse of Power

Posted January. 08, 2007 03:01,   


There are many complaints that businesses cannot go on without connections to power. That is because economic agencies with power are exerting great influence. The Financial Supervisory Service (FSS), Fair Trade Commission and the Office of the National Tax Service are among them. These agencies’ officials are godlike to businesspeople because they can almost decide their life and death. That is why business people try to make connections with them or form “bulletproof” clubs. Also, it is understandable that busy executives struggle to enter graduate schools with courses for high ranked enterprisers or social clubs to expand their clique.

Kim Heung-joo, chaiman of Samju Co. (former Grace department store) who got arrested on charges of illegal lobbying for taking over a savings and loan institution, was one who made the bulletproof club. Originally, he named the club “Circle of Brethren Practicing Love” to the effect that they do voluntary service for orphanages and nursing homes. As time went by, 45 members started to call each other “brothers” and call their club meetings “brotherhood meetings.” However, the prosecution views the meeting as a lobby window and a shield for Kim in reality.

The background of the meeting’s members and associate members is peerless. The current vice-chairman of the FSS who got arrested on charges of helping Kim’s attempt to take over a savings and loan institution, former Gwangju bureau chairman of the FSS, director of the Prosecutors’ office who got demoted due to his attempt to evade secret investigation of the case in 2001, former chief presidential secretary, and former commissioner of the National Tax Service are its members or observers. A former minister who was once an executive official of the prosecution, a politician who once worked for a broadcasting company, a leading journalist and a famous entertainer are also among them. A member and former official of the Board of Audit and Inspection who was involved in the attempt to take over another savings and loan institution, killed himself.

You can sense privilege and foul play of economy agencies with power even by looking over its members’ backgrounds. A few days ago, President Roh complimented public officials on their excellence, but I wonder if he is even aware of the fact that there are a lot of bad public officials at economic agencies. The prosecution, which has investigated the case since 2001, failed to figure out the outline of the case maybe because people who help Kim are representing various walks of life. The truth of this case may be found in the faces of the “brothers.”

Yuk Jeong-soo, Editorial Writer, sooya@donga.com