- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 19, 2002

SEOUL South Korean President Kim Dae-jung's youngest son was arrested yesterday on charges of taking bribes, dealing another blow to the credibility of his Nobel peace laureate father.
Kim Hong-gul, 39, who lives in Los Angeles but had returned to Seoul to answer charges, is accused of receiving millions of dollars in bribes last year from a businessman who is now in jail.
Television footage showed him leaving the state prosecutor's office late yesterday. "I am sorry to have caused concern to many people," he said before heading toward a Seoul prison.
"I am sorry," he said, when asked by a reporter what he had to say to his parents.
The scandal is likely to tarnish the legacy of the elder Mr. Kim, a former pro-democracy activist who campaigned for the presidency on an anti-corruption platform. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000 for helping improve ties with North Korea.
The president has not been implicated in any scandal, but he has had to apologize for financial wrongdoing by officials in his government. His second oldest son, Kim Hong-up, is also suspected of having received bribes, but prosecutors have yet to question him.
Earlier this month, the president quit his ruling Millennium Democratic Party and apologized for recent scandals. He said he wanted to move away from domestic politics and concentrate on state affairs.
Opposition legislators have seized on the scandals to question Mr. Kim's moral authority at a time when the president is trying to focus on the smooth staging of the World Cup soccer tournament that starts May 31.
Mr. Kim's single five-year term ends in February, and by law he cannot seek re-election. Presidential elections will be held in December.
A judge issued an arrest warrant for Kim Hong-gul while he was at the state prosecutor's office in Seoul. He was immediately arrested. If convicted of bribery, he could be sentenced to as many as five years in prison.


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