- The Washington Times - Friday, February 7, 2003

SEOUL, South Korea, Feb. 7 (UPI) — An appeals court sentenced a son of President Kim Dae-jung to two years in prison Friday for accepting bribes from businessmen seeking his influence to gain favor from the government. The sentence was reduced from a 3 1/2 year term imposed by a lower court.

The court also ordered Kim Hong-up, 53, to pay 400 million won ($338,000) in fines and ordered him to forfeit the 260 million ($219,0000) he received in bribes.

The second son of the outgoing president has been behind bars since he was arrested in June for accepting $4 million from nine companies in return for peddling his influence.

"Heavy punishment for Kim was inevitable to prevent a recurrence of such disgraceful cases," the court ruling said. Kim has driven people to "despair by using his privileged status for his personal interest," it said.

His younger half-brother, Kim Hong-gul, was convicted of bribery in November and received a two-year suspended prison term. The president's oldest son, Kim Hong-il, also was under suspicion of involvement in the influence-peddling scandal and of having close ties to organized crime.

The corruption scandals have damaged the image of Kim Dae-jung, who won the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize for lifetime efforts toward democracy and human rights. He has apologized repeatedly to the nation for the behavior of his sons and relatives.

In his final days in office, Kim has been under suspicion that he might have bribed communist North Korea to stage a historic summit in 2000 with his defiant counterpart, Kim Jong Il. Kim Dae-jung, who denies the charge, leaves office on Feb. 25 after completing a single five-year term.

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