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Prosecutors Summon Another Son of President Kim for Questioning - 2002-06-17

Prosecutors in South Korea have summoned President Kim Dae-jung's second son in connection with an ever-widening influence peddling and tax evasion scandal. The scandal is threatening to ruin the ruling party's chance to win the next presidential election.

President Kim's 52 year-old son, Kim Hong-up, is facing prosecutors in Seoul over his role in the scandal, which has engulfed the president's family and closest aides for the past year.

Prosecutors are investigating whether Kim Hong-up the second of the president's three sons received one-point-five million dollars in bribes from various companies in return for favorable treatment from the presidential Blue House. Until recently, Kim Hong-up had been in charge of a non-profit foundation set up by his father to promote reunification with communist North Korea. He denies any wrongdoing.

Earlier this month, police indicted the president's youngest son, Kim Hong-gul, on charges that he took nearly three million dollars in bribes in exchange for peddling influence. He is now awaiting trial.

President Kim, who won the Nobel Peace Prize two years ago for his efforts to reconcile with North Korea, has not been implicated in the scandal and has repeatedly apologized to the nation. But the criminal allegations against his family and aides have badly damaged Kim Dae-jung's image at home.

Disillusioned citizens showed their anger toward Mr. Kim and his Millennium Democratic Party at the polls Thursday handing a landslide victory to the country's main opposition group in local and regional elections. By law, Kim Dae-jung cannot run for a second five-year term. But the leader of the Grand National Party, Lee Hoi-chang, says he is now poised to defeat the ruling party candidate, Roh Moo-hyun, in the December 19 presidential election. Mr. Lee narrowly lost the presidency to Kim Dae-jung in 1997. Both parties are struggling, however, to generate enthusiasm among voters - disgusted by scandals and distracted by the World Cup soccer tournament being held this month in South Korea and Japan. Turnout for Thursday's elections was just 48 percent of eligible voters a record low for the country.