Go to contents

[Op-Ed] An Ex-Pres. Spoiling His Son

Posted May. 06, 2009 08:24,   


When World War II broke out, then British Princess Elizabeth II volunteered for military service and drove trucks. Her second son Andrew was a helicopter pilot in the Falklands War versus Argentina in 1982. Her grandson Henry served in Afghanistan in 2007. The three followed the British royal family’s tradition of noblesse oblige. This is stark contrast to the children of Korean presidents, who often engage in influence peddling and bribery.

Prosecutors have grilled former National Intelligence Service Director Kim Man-bok and former and current intelligence officers for allegedly providing illegal support to the son of former President Roh Moo-hyun. Prosecutors said that at the request of then presidential secretary Jung Sang-moon, Kim asked a spy official to look for a U.S. residence for Roh Gun-ho in June 2007, when the president’s son took a leave from work and studied in San Francisco. In other words, Cheong Wa Dae and the intelligence agency supported the son of an incumbent president. With the help of government agencies, Roh Gun-ho in April last year moved out of a dormitory room costing 1,600 U.S. dollars a month into a place priced at 3,600 dollars.

A source close to former President Roh said, “Roh (Moo-hyun) wasn’t involved and his wife Kwon Yang-sook doesn’t remember this at all.” The ex-president is employing all kinds of tactics to shift the blame. That means his former secretary and spy chief asked a government official to look for a rental house for his son and did not report it to the president. Does this make sense? Even if this explanation is right, it still means Roh Gun-ho asked a favor from a presidential secretary and even received help from a former spy agency chief. So does this mean former President Roh consider whether he knew of his son’s request a minor problem?

Prosecutors said the six million dollars sent by Taekwang Industry CEO Park Yeon-cha to the ex-president might be related to Roh Gun-ho. Roh Moo-hyun said he delivered his own personal network program Knowhow 2000 to a tech startup invested by his son, yet says he had no idea. Had Roh taught his son noblesse oblige instead of giving unconditional and excessive support to his son, the ex-president could have avoided disgrace.

Editorial Writer Lee Jin-nyong (jinnyong@donga.com)