ĦĦĦĦSEOUL, June 23 (Xinhuanet) -- South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun on Monday
rejected a demand to extend the investigation into the payoff scandal involving
a South Korean large enterprise, former government officials and Democratic
People's Republic of Korea.
ĦĦĦĦThe request has been raised by Independent Counsel Song Doo-hwan, who is in
charge of the probe, to make fresh allegations.
ĦĦĦĦRoh was quoted by the news agency Yonhap News as saying at a meeting with
his senior secretaries in the Blue House, "Song's mission is almost
complete...Therefore, it would be reasonable to deal with (the fresh
allegations) separately from the independent counsel investigation."
ĦĦĦĦSong was appointed in March to investigate allegations that South Korean
former President Kim Dae-jung's administration paid 500 million US dollars to
the DPRK through the Hyundai Group to participate in the historic 2000
ĦĦĦĦThe then President Kim Dae-jung confessed in a public speech that the Hyundai
Group has transmitted such sum of money to Pyongyang in order to promote inter-Korean
economic exchanges, but denied it has relations with the 2002 summit
meeting between him and DPRK top leader Kim Jong Il.
ĦĦĦĦSong Doo-hwan was given 70 days for the first stage of the probe with an
option to ask the president to extend the investigating period. As the
expiration of the initial 70-day period drew to an end, evidence came to light
that former Culture Minister and Kim Dae-jung's Chief of Staff Park Jie-won took
15 billion won (12.6 million US dollars) of the sum from Hyundai around April
ĦĦĦĦPark Jie-won was arrested last week on graft charges although he denied any
ĦĦĦĦAfter the revelation, suspicions have snowballed that a major part of the
15 billion won went to politicians. Citing the need toclear up those suspicions,
Song implored Roh Moo-hyun last Saturday to give him 30 more days of further
ĦĦĦĦRoh's rejection made Song's term to be ended on the coming Wednesday.
ĦĦĦĦ"Whether to name a new independent counsel depends on the National
Assembly," Roh said. "I think it would be desirable to decide whether to have
the prosecution undertake the probe after watching for a while how the National
Assembly will decide."
ĦĦĦĦHe stressed, however, that the bribery scandal involving Park should be
investigated thoroughly so that "it does not leave a dotof suspicion."
ĦĦĦĦBut the major opposition Grand National Party (GNP) strongly protested
Roh's rejection, pledging an "all-out struggle" against the decision. The
opposition party wants the allegations thoroughly investigated.
ĦĦĦĦThe ruling Millennium Democratic Party welcomed Roh's
decision, saying it will contribute to helping advance inter-Korean relations.