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South Korean Government Spokesman Steps Down Amid Corruption Charges - 2002-01-10


South Korea's chief government spokesman has stepped down under a cloud of corruption allegations. Park Joon-young is the latest official to be linked to a series of financial scandals tainting the South Korean administration ahead of this year's presidential elections.

South Korean President Kim Dae-jung accepted Thursday the resignation of Park Joon-young, head of the Government Information Agency.

Mr. Park, one of President Kim's closest aides, tendered his resignation Wednesday citing health reasons.

But prosecutors say they will be investigating allegations that Mr. Park had accepted bribes from jailed businessman Yoon Tae-shik. Mr. Yoon told prosecutors that he often sought Mr. Park's help in expanding his business.

Mr. Park acknowledges meeting Mr. Yoon on several occasions but denies any wrongdoing.

Two government officials and two journalists have been arrested on charges of accepting bribes from Mr. Yoon. Prosecutors say they will question more officials and journalists in coming weeks regarding Mr. Yoon's attempt to buy influence and favors.

Mr. Yoon was arrested late last year on charges of murdering his wife in Hong Kong in 1987. Prosecutors say government spy agents covered up the alleged crime for 15 years, instead using Mr. Yoon in a propaganda campaign against North Korea.

Mr. Park's resignation deals another blow to President Kim's administration ahead of presidential elections in December. Mr. Kim's senior legal advisor was arrested last month on charges of accepting bribes from another jailed businessman.

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