Point of No Return for Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye

Grand National Party presidential candidate Lee Myung-bak held a news conference on Thursday countering accusations made by his main rival Park Geun-hye. Lee said, ¡°I have never owned a single piece of land that was registered under someone else¡¯s name and don¡¯t own a single share that¡¯s related to BBK.¡± Park¡¯s camp said Tuesday that Lee owned W800 billion (US$1=W938) worth of assets under relatives¡¯ names, while raising suspicions that he formed a dubious investment firm called BBK in conjunction with a businessman, named Kim Kyung-joon, who was accused of embezzling W39.4 billion in 2001. Lee asked the GNP to ¡°deal firmly with indiscriminate mudslinging.¡±

In response, Park¡¯s camp said strong suspicions remain over Lee¡¯s involvement with the company, since the former Seoul mayor¡¯s name appears on a BBK business card with the title of chairman and CEO. Also, a picture showing Lee took together with the BBK official had been shown in the press.

As Lee said during the press conference, the BBK accusations were investigated by state prosecutors in 2001 and authorities concluded that Lee was not guilty of any charges made against him. But it¡¯s also true that before the embezzlement scandal, Lee had praised Kim and said the two were close friends. And although it was not BBK, the two formed a company together. Lee¡¯s camp admits that Lee and Kim knew each other well, but that relationship ended after he discovered the problems involving Kim. A company owned by Lee¡¯s brother, they say, suffered a big loss due to Kim. But there needs to be a clear and detailed explanation of the entire process. This ¡°he said, she said¡± squabbling must stop.

Three days after raising serious suspicions, Park¡¯s camp has yet to offer new information. The accusations involving BBK had all been reported in the press years ago. Lawmaker Koak Sung-moon, an associate of Park who raised the allegations involving Lee¡¯s massive wealth, said he would hold a press conference on Thursday to present more information. But now he is avoiding contact with reporters and has failed to come up with concrete evidence to back up his claim. In a phone interview with a reporter, he changed his original account, saying the Lee Myung-bak ¡°X file¡± he has ominously been talking about ¡°is a file that contains information on former mayor Lee as well as other politicians.¡±

This is a serious problem between the two frontrunners in the presidential race. They have passed the point of no return. The entire truth must now be revealed.
englishnews@chosun.com / 6¿ù 08, 2007 10:47 KST