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S. Korea's Roh Again Offers to Quit in Growing Scandal - 2003-12-16

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun has repeated a pledge to step down from office if prosecutors find that his ruling Millennium Democratic Party took in a significant amount of illegal funding in last year's election.

In a televised address to the nation Tuesday, Mr. Roh said he will appoint a special counsel to look into corruption allegations involving three of his former aides. He apologized twice for the widening scandal that has plunged South Korea into political turmoil.

The president spoke one day after the man he beat in the presidential election said he is willing to go to jail because his party took $42 million in illegal campaign funds. Lee Hoi-chang, the former head of the main opposition Grand National Party, said his party collected illegal funds from major business groups to finance his failed presidential bid.

Mr. Roh said he will resign if his party is found to have collected one-tenth of what the opposition took in.

This whole scandal erupted in October, when one of the president's close aides was arrested on charges that he received nearly $1 million in illegal funds from a top business group. Since then, the probe has been widened to investigate the fundraising activities of all the parties involved in the election.