South Korean president apologizes for scandal, banishes son
Government reorganization expected
February 25, 1997
Web posted at: 8:41 a.m. EST (1341 GMT)
In this story:
SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- Trying to salvage the final year
of his presidency, South Korea's Kim Young-sam apologized
Tuesday for a bribery scandal and banished a controversial
son from public life.
Kim made the apology in a somber nationally televised speech
marking the fourth anniversary of his inauguration, saying he
was in "agony and sorrow" over aides' involvement the
scandal over dubious loans to the failed Hanbo Steel Co.
The affair has landed three of Kim's close associates in
jail and undermined his standing with the public.
"I take full responsibility ... I apologize deeply."
-- Kim Young-sam
After the president's speech, all 12 of his senior
secretaries as well as key leaders of the governing New Korea
Party offered to resign.
Resignations also were expected to be offered by his Cabinet.
Information Minister Oh In-hwan said the president would
extensively reorganize his government.
Kim, who took office in 1993, also apologized for a labor law
rammed through parliament last December in a way that
recalled the tactics of his military predecessors and sparked
a month of strikes.
Opposition parties welcomed Kim's apology, but said he failed
to resolve the crisis by ignoring their demand for an
Student radicals who demand Kim's resignation also were
unsatisfied. Hours after the apology, they clashed with riot
police in the first campus violence since a crackdown last
year on student activism.
Police fired volleys of tear gas at about 700 students
hurling rocks and shouting "Down with the Kim Young-sam
regime" at Seoul's Hanyang University, witnesses said. At
least five students were detained.
Prosecutors claim banks pressured by politicians offered huge
loans in return for kickbacks from Hanbo, which racked up
$5.8 billion in debts before going under on January 23.
Kim's second son, Hyun-chul, was questioned last weekend
about the scandal and cleared of wrongdoing. Opposition
politicians labeled the probe a whitewash. In his speech,
Kim said he would bar his 38-year-old son from social
activities until his presidency ends.
Hyun-chul later said he would resign from all posts, and
media reports said he might leave the country for a spell.
A prosecution official said Hyun-chul withdrew legal action
on Tuesday against opposition politicians he said had defamed
him in connection with the scandal.
Prosecutors last week indicted 10 people including a Cabinet
minister, politicians, top bankers and the founder of the
Hanbo Group, the country's 14th biggest conglomerate.
Seoul Bureau Chief Sohn Jie-Ae and Reuters contributed to this report.
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