Chun Doo-hwan's second son Jae-yong has apparently hinted he could pay off some of the disgraced ex-president's massive fine for corruption in office.
The Chun family met recently and apparently agreed to pitch in and pay the remaining W167.2 billion of his W220.5 billion fine (US$1=W1,1096). The meeting came after Chun's equally disgraced successor Roh Tae-woo finally cleared the remaining W23 billion of his own fine for corruption in office and other crimes.
Roh's former brother-in-law and ex-chairman of Shindongbang Group, Shin Myong-soo, paid W8 billion and Roh's younger brother the remaining W15 billion. It took them 16 years, but at least they have now paid off some of their debt to the society they preyed on.
That the two presidents received massive bribes from big businesses during their rule and stashed them away in slush funds so that they could live lives of luxury after retirement is bad enough. But for Chun to claim penury and refuse to pay up while his family continue to live lives of ostentatious luxury is perhaps an even bigger disgrace.
Chun and Roh's impudence came to symbolize the indiscretion and greed of Korea's wealthy, and this image has blighted Korean society for decades. The lack of ethics of influential figures created a fertile ground for pro-North Korean activists to justify their cause. Watching the legal process finally grind into gear raises the question what prosecutors had been doing until now.
The combined assets of Chun's family are apparently not enough to cover the remaining fine. They will have to try harder. Only when they have spent every last won paying their debt to society will the public accept that they have done all they can.
As he emerged from 18 hours of questioning by prosecutors on Wednesday morning, Chun junior bowed in front of throngs of reporters and cameras and apologized to the public. That is not good enough. The ex-president must finally respect the law.