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South Korean President Leaves Ruling Party Amid Corrption Scandals - 2002-05-06

South Korean President Kim Dae-jung resigned from his ruling party Monday amid controversy over a series of corruption allegations involving his sons and several associates.

President Kim Dae-jung's said Monday that he and his wife are in agony over the allegations that led to his resignation from South Korea's ruling political party. In a statement, he apologized for a series of corruption allegations involving his family and associates and asked for the public's patience in awaiting investigation results.

"His followers and family has been shown to have been bilking the system and he is being required to take personal responsibility for that," says Andrew Pratt, a Seoul-based analyst for Industrial Research and Consulting. "He is not being required to resign, though there have been some calls for that, but to make a deep public apology for the laxity of his underlings."

The 77-year-old Mr. Kim says that he plans to focus on South Korea's role as a successful co-host of the World Cup soccer tournament, which opens in South Korea and Japan later this month.

Mr. Kim's departure from the ruling Millennium Democratic Party is not expected to have a direct impact on his ability to govern South Korea. He gave up leadership of the party last November in response to public outrage over corruption charges leveled against senior government officials.

The president is still expected to complete his five-year presidential term which ends in February. Under South Korea's constitution, Mr. Kim is prohibited from seeking re-election.

Mr. Kim's sons have been allegedly linked to influence-peddling scams involving shady businessmen who are under arrest. However, the police have not formally charged the sons and Mr. Kim has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Mr. Kim won the Nobel Peace Prize in the year 2000 for his efforts to bring about peaceful relations between North and South Korea, rivals since 1945. But his popularity among the South Korean public has been damaged by the corruption scandals and people's divergent views on his Sunshine Policy of engagement with Pyongyang.