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Political parties use parliamentary audit to attack presidential hopefuls
SEOUL, Oct. 9 (Yonhap) -- Political parties on Tuesday used ongoing parliamentary audit sessions to attack rival presidential hopefuls as the country gears up for the December elections.

   The ruling Saenuri Party said there is a need to open an official probe to determine if late President Roh Moo-hyun agreed to nullify the Northern Limit Line (NLL) at the inter-Korean summit in 2007.

   Rep. Lee Cheol-woo, the party's spokesman, said the allegations raised are a serious matter, and highlights how the previous liberal administration compromised itself before the North Korean regime.

   He also said that since the main opposition Democratic United Party's (DUP) presidential candidate Moon Jae-in was presidential chief of staff at the time of the summit, he needs to personally answer all questions raised.

   The NLL is the de facto maritime border between the two Koreas and has been in place since the armistice following Korean War(1950-53) with North Korea constantly challenging its legitimacy.

   Lee also said that suspicions have been raised about the late president offering to give up to 100 trillion won (US$90 billion) in assistance to the communist country at the summit meeting.

   "The DUP has maintained that no such deals were made so it should take the lead in accepting a probe to clear the name of its presidential contender," the lawmaker said.

Park Geun-hye (L), Moon Jae-in (C), Ahn Cheol-soo (Yonhap file photo)

Saenuri lawmakers also raised suspicions that a law firm where Moon was the chief attorney benefited from a phone call to a senior state regulator made by the opposition candidate while he was a senior presidential secretary in 2003. The call, which allowed the law firm to win 5.9 billion won worth of cases from the financial firm, was made to stave off the collapse of a troubled savings bank in the port city of Busan. The savings bank, however, went bankrupt anyway and caused losses to small-time investors.

   DUP lawmakers on the other hand, made claims that targeted the Saenuri's presidential hopeful Park Geun-hye.

   In an audit session at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Rep. Park Hong-keun said the 1.1 billion won in salary received by the 60-year-old candidate from the Jeongsu Scholarship Foundation was unlawful.

   The foundation was created by Park's late father after it was confiscated from local businessman in 1962 by soldiers. The Saenuri's candidate was chairwoman of the board's foundation from 1994 through 2005.

   Opposition lawmakers tried to summon the incumbent president of the scholarship foundation but this motion was rejected by Saenuri members.

   In addition, the DUP raised suspicions that many of Park's relatives, including her sister-in-law, were involved in shady business and stock market-related dealings that hurt ordinary investors.

   On the allegations raised, Saenuri countered that all suspicions surrounding money received from the educational foundation have already been cleared by an investigation conducted under the Roh administration.

   It added that the DUP was engaging in the worst kind of mud-slinging by trying to connect suspicious activities committed by Park's distant cousins and their in-laws with the presidential candidate at this juncture.

   Besides attacks directed at the Saenuri and DUP candidates, lawmakers have beefed up their criticism against independent candidate Ahn Cheol-soo.

   Ruling party lawmakers said the software entrepreneur-turned-politician needs to explain if he was aware of the plot of land and building he inherited from his grandfather in 1979 when he was a high school senior.

   Saenuri lawmakers said the real estate is important, because Ahn claimed in his book that the only inheritance he received was a bank account for 500,000 won.

   "He may say he was too young to know about acquiring the land, but when it was sold in 1994, Ahn was in his 30s and would have realized where the property came from," a lawmaker said.

   Besides this, the conservative party said Ahn inflated his academic credentials by saying he earned a master of business administration (MBA) degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 2008, when in fact, he got a so-called executive MBA from the university's San Francisco campus. The executive course requires a student to attend around two weekend classes per month, but has an annual tuition reaching around 100 million won.

   "His past deeds do not match his words that won his political fame," a Saenuri official said. He indicated that there will be more efforts to screen his past to see if he is really eligible to run the country.