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(EDITORIAL from the Korea Herald on July 27)
Probe on Chun's assets
Ex-president’s family faces tax evasion charges

The search for assets hidden by Chun Doo-hwan is gaining momentum as the prosecution seizes properties and valuables suspected of being owned, or given to his children, by the former president. The latest move follows the search and seizure the prosecution previously conducted on the homes of Chun, his children and the offices of the companies they were managing.

   In 1997, Chun was convicted of treason and corruption and sentenced to life in prison. He was released after eight months in prison when he was granted amnesty. But his fines, amounting to 220.5 billion won, were upheld. Of the amount, 167.2 billion won remains unpaid.

   The prosecution renewed its vigor for collecting the remaining fines several days ago, taking hold of bank deposits, insurance policies and securities holdings held in the names of his family members and relatives. It also seized seven safe deposit boxes that had been used by Chun's brother-in-law to store tens of bankbooks and jewelry, including diamonds.

   Among other assets taken by the prosecution were the home in which Chun's second son resided and a house he had recently sold. It also froze a 3 billion won annuity insurance account held by Chun's wife. It also called on brokerages to submit records on the trading of securities by Chun's family during the past 20 years.

   The action taken by the prosecution was indicative of the intensity of determination with which the prosecution is conducting its investigation into the case. The prosecution appeared determined not to allow Chun to get away with shunning the court order to pay the fines this time, as he has done for the past 16 years.

   The prosecutors in charge, who threw out the dragnet, were following an order from Chae Dong-wook, prosecutor-general, who told them on Tuesday to speed up the process of seizing suspect assets and keep open all possibilities for bringing criminal charges against members of Chun's family.

   By issuing the order, the prosecutor-general was tightening the noose around the neck of the former military-backed strongman. His remarks, together with the participation of tax officers in search of Chun's hidden wealth, implied that the prosecution was seriously considering charging some of Chun's family with tax evasion.

   The responses from Chun's family have been nothing short of pathetic and maudlin. His family is reportedly claiming that the incumbent administration is running "a kangaroo court on the powers that cease to be." His wife has been quoted as saying her family will feel the pinch acutely when the annuity payments stop.

   If their memory is short, however, the family should be reminded that Chun took power in a coup as an Army general, savagely cracked down on a civil uprising and promised to build a just society while taking billions of won in bribes from business tycoons. He has nothing to boast about.