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SOUTH KOREA: PARLIAMENTARY HEARING INTO HANBO BRIBERY SCANDAL

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English/Nat

Kim Hyun-chul, the second son of President Kim Young-sam, testified before the parliamentary hearing into the Hanbo bribery scandal Friday.

His testimony was the highlight of the three-week National Assembly investigation.

The Hanbo Scandal unfolded earlier this year with revelations that Hanbo had amassed an astronomical amount of bank loans.

Kim Hyun-chul had been accused of playing a leading role in brokering the loans for Hanbo.

Rumours of Kim's involvement were backed up when video tapes showing him meddling in the selection of major government posts were stolen and released to the press.

With the sluggish economy and distrust in politics growing, the continuing Hanbo hearings have been the major topic among South Koreans.

When Hanbo Steel Company collapsed under heavy debt in January, it was thought that the lagging economy was the cause.

However, when it was revealed that Hanbo Business Group, the conglomerate which owns Hanbo Steel, received favourable loans from banks and used the money to bribe politicians for favours, the collapse of Hanbo Steel became a scandal.

Although the president's son was a major player in the political arena because of his status, his involvement in the Hanbo Scandal took South Koreans by surprise

Kim Hyun-chul is a graduate of Korea University, studied overseas, and upon his return, held the post of president of South Korea chapter of the United Nations Youth Association.

But, even though he has no fixed income, he managed to have a personal office in downtown Seoul and met with politicians and others at first class hotels; he is known to have led a lavish life.

Kim is accused of taking some 200 billion won in commission in the course of Hanbo Steel Company's purchase of steel-making machinery from a German firm.

Dr. Park Kyung-seek is a long-time associate of Kim Hyun-chul.

It was images of Kim at his clinic recorded on video which were stolen and released to the press that brought Kim's involvement out to the public.

SOUNDBITE: (Korean)
"I planned to reveal all about the corrupt powers but when the video tape was stolen and then released to the press, there was no need to take legal action. I was given the opportunity to talk about everything."
SUPER CAPTION: Dr Park Kyung seek

These are the images of Kim Hyun-chul at Park's clinic. He appears to be comfortable at the clinic and had his calls forwarded there.

The images were taken by the video camera mounted high on the wall facing Park's desk. Such video recordings are not illegal and are for the purposes of clinical analysis, claims Park.

Kim Hyun-chul is heard meddling in the selection of major operators of a cable TV station which is government owned.

SOUNDBITE: (Korean)
"Kim Hyun-chul is the closest, highest advisor to the president. Nobody can see him (president) more than he can. And nobody can have as much power as Kim Hyun-chul. In reality, who would President Kim Young-sam trust more than his son?"
SUPER CAPTION: Dr Park Kyung seek

Eventually, because of the revelation of Kim Hyun-chul meddling in selection of government posts, Kim was summoned by the prosecution office.

But prosecutors cleared him due to lack of evidence.

SOUNDBITE: (Korean)
"The current President Kim Young-sam's son, Kim Hyun-chul is deeply involved in not only the Hanbo Scandal but also in many matters of importance to the country and various selection of government posts. This was possible because of the history of "Boss" orientated political structure of South Korea."
SUPER CAPTION: Park Byong-ok, Director of Policy Research, Citizen's Coalition for Economic Justice





SOUNDBITE:
"He committed a crime and should be punished for it."




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