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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

Money Matters, to Some

But not, so far, to Kim Dae Jung's supporters

IT IS NOT EASY being a presidential candidate in South Korea. Campaigning is grueling, formulating new policies is tricky and fending off accusations from other nominees is exhausting. Just ask opposition candidate and front-runner Kim Dae Jung. In early October Kang Sam Je, the outspoken secretary general of the ruling New Korea Party, alleged that Kim has -- what else? -- an illegal slush fund.

Kang shocked Kim two years ago by disclosing that Kim had received money from former president Roh Tae Woo. This time Kang had more details, including a bank account and check numbers. Kang alleges that Roh gave Kim a 2 billion won ($2.2 million) check, money which Roh supposedly received from Daewoo Chairman Kim Woo Choong. The ruling party claimed that Kim had taken $15 million from such companies as Dong-A, Daewoo and Samsung. Then Kang implicated Kim's (40) family members, including his wife and two sons, in hiding some of the money. The tally, according to Kang: a $74 million slush fund, with $42 million stashed in 342 accounts in 18 financial institutions.

The opposition National Congress for New Politics says the allegations are the "acts of a desperate party." Kim admitted receiving $2.2 million -- but no more -- from various sources, including businessmen. "But I never received money with strings attached," Kim said. "All I have received has been spent for official purposes and not a penny has been hidden under my and my relatives' names."

The ruling party also claimed that Kim deposited campaign donations into his personal accounts, rather than party accounts. If that is true, Kim could be prosecuted for not paying gift taxes. A lawyer in the prosecutor's office says that a criminal investigation could also be warranted if there is evidence that Kim did not return to the party unused funds from his 1992 campaign. Kim (temporarily) retired from politics after he lost.

Many Koreans seem unmoved by the charges against Kim. He still leads the five-way race, with about 35% support. The ruling party's Lee Hoi Chang is running a distant second or third (depending on the poll) at around 20%. But about 50% of those surveyed say they believe the allegations against Kim are true. The voters, it turns out, are not so hard on the candidates.

-- By Laxmi Nakarmi / Seoul

This edition's table of contents | Asiaweek home



U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

Thai party announces first coalition partner


COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state


COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness

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