S Koreans charged over summit cash


Two top aides to South Korean former President Kim Dae-jung have been charged following an inquiry into a cash for summit scandal which preceded an historic inter-Korean meeting three years ago.

Park Jie-won, Mr Kim’s presidential chief of staff, and Lim Dong-won, the former head of South Korea’s spy agency, were among more than eight people charged as a result of a 70-day probe by independent counsel Song Doo-hwan.

Mr Song’s investigation found that $100m of the $500m transferred by Seoul to North Korea ahead of the 2000 summit was government money.

The inquiry was ordered by incumbent South Korean President, Roh Moo-hyun, after the scandal first surfaced during last year’s presidential election.

Kim Dae-jung has already apologised to the nation for the advance payment to the North, but denied the government itself had made any payments.

Mr Song said that while $400m of the money belonged to Hyundai, and was intended for legitimate business investment in North Korea, $100m was sent by Seoul as “politically motivated government aid”.

He stopped short of saying the government money was a bribe, but said the donation was clearly related to the summit and had been sent secretly through improper channels.

Mr Kim, who left office this February after a five-year tenure, was given the Nobel Peace Prize largely as a result of the historic inter-Korean summit.

He has argued that the money transfers “facilitated peace on the Korean Peninsula”.

But opposition politicians have continued to demand a more thorough enquiry into the matter.


One of the officials charged in connection with the scandal, former Culture and Tourism Minister Park Jie-won, met North Korean officials in April 2000 to arrange the June summit, according to Mr Song’s inquiry.

During the meeting, Mr Park pledged $100m to Pyongyang, which he later persuaded Hyundai to transfer, Mr Song said.

Lim Dong-won, former director of the National Intelligence Service, is accused of violating laws on foreign exchange transactions.

Chung Mong-hun, the chairman of Hyundai Asan, has also been charged in connection with the falsification of financial documents in order to cover up the payments to Pyongyang.

At least five others have been charged in connection with the case – some of whom could face up to five years in jail, according to the Associated Press news agency.

Mr Roh has vetoed a call by the South Korean opposition that the probe be extended to investigate the role of former President Kim Dae-jung himself.


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