Son of S. Korea President Arrested
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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ President Kim Dae-jung’s youngest son was arrested Saturday on suspicion of influence-peddling in one of a series of scandals that has sapped the popularity of his father.
Kim Hong-gul, 39, who lives in Los Angeles but had returned to Seoul to answer charges, was accused of receiving millions of dollars in bribes last year from a businessman who is now in jail.
Television footage showed Kim leaving the state prosecutor’s office late Saturday.
``I am sorry to have caused a trouble,″ he told reporters before heading toward a Seoul prison. ``I am sorry,″ he said, when asked by a reporter what he had to say to his parents. He is the youngest of three sons.
Kim Dae-jung, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who campaigned for the presidency on a platform of clean government, has not been implicated in any scandal. However, corruption investigations involving government officials as well as two of his sons has hurt his image.
Kim’s single five-year term ends in February, and by law he cannot seek re-election. Presidential elections will be held in December.
A judge issued an arrest warrant for Kim Hong-gul while he was at the state prosecutor’s office in Seoul. He was immediately arrested. If convicted of bribery, he could be sentenced to up to five years in prison.
Hong-gul returned from Los Angeles earlier this week to face allegations involving Choi Kyu-sun, a lobbyist under arrest on bribery charges. Choi allegedly bribed Hong-gul to help a lottery operator, Tiger Pools Korea, win a sports lottery license in early 2001.
Local media quoted prosecutors as saying that Hong-gul acknowledged receiving at least $2.1 million from Choi and other businessmen. The prosecutors, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Hong-gul denied that he had peddled influence in return for the money.
The president’s second oldest son, Kim Hong-up, is also suspected of having received bribes. Prosecutors have yet to question him.