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Monday, 6 May, 2002, 02:49 GMT 03:49 UK
South Korea president quits party
South Korean President Kim Dae-jung
President Kim says he will devote himself to state affairs
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By Caroline Gluck
BBC correspondent in Seoul

South Korea's President Kim Dae-jung has resigned from the governing Millennium Democratic Party he founded, and apologised again for a series of corruption scandals involving his three sons and close aides.

In a statement, he said he had decided to leave the party to free himself from domestic politics and devote himself to state affairs, including the forthcoming World Cup and key elections later this year.

President Kim's announcement had been widely predicted but mounting public anger over the growing political scandals proved the decisive factor.

The president's sons are alleged to have been involved in a series of influence peddling scandals involving businessmen and one of them is expected to present himself for questioning by prosecutors.

Kim Dae-jung's decision to leave the MDP is intended to distance himself from the party and to create political neutrality in the run-up to local and presidential elections later this year.

The president is constitutionally barred from seeking a second term.

Analysts say President Kim's announcement is expected to make little difference to daily Korean politics.

He had quit the leadership of his party last November, with younger members successfully pushing for a series of reforms.

It has also been a pattern in Korean politics over the past few years for the head of state to sever his ties with the governing party in the last stage of the presidency and to become a politically neutral figure.

See also:

08 Mar 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: South Korea
15 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
South Korea finance chief named
29 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
S Korean cabinet reshuffled
14 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
S Korean leader 'sorry' for scandals
10 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
New scandal hits South Korea
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