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Last Updated: Friday, 26 September, 2003, 11:12 GMT 12:12 UK
South Korea convicts six over summit
A poster of Kim Dae-jung meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong-il
The summit brought praise for Kim-Dae Jung (right)
A court in South Korea has reportedly sentenced six people for illegally transferring money to North Korea to bring about the historic summit between the two in 2000.

Two of those sentenced - Lee Ki-ho and Lim Dong-won - were prominent officials in the government of South Korea's ex-president Kim Dae-Jung.

He won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the historic North-South summit, seen at the time as bold step towards defusing tension with the Communist North.

But an investigation later revealed that his government paid North Korea some $200m to turn up.

Six remain free

None of the six are likely to go to jail as the sentences were suspended and will not be enforced unless they commit a similar crime, the Associated Press reported.

June 2000: Leaders from North and South Korea meet
Nov 2000: S Korea's Kim Dae-jung wins Nobel Peace Prize
Jan 2003: "Cash-for-summit" allegations over $500m payment to North
2003: Hyundai and government aides are criticised, and some charged
Aug 2003 Hyundai Asan boss commits suicide
Sept 2003: six get suspended jail terms

They were convicted for breaking rules on foreign exchange transfers by shipping $100m to North Korea.

The court's statement made clear that it believed the secret transfer "obviously has a close relationship with the inter-Korean summit talks".

The 'cash for summit' scandal has tainted the reputation of ex-president Kim and of the summit itself, adding to the difficulties facing liberal President Roh Moo-hyun in tackling international alarm over the North's nuclear programme.

The most prominent figure to be charged over the 'cash-for-summit' scandal, Chung Mong-hun, chairman of the Hyundai Asan group, committed suicide in August 2003.

Tour firm in trouble

Hyundai Asan, a branch of the giant Hyundai conglomerate, was suspected of overpaying for tourism licences as a way to channel funds to North Korea.

Missile launcher
Tensions are growing on the Korean peninsular

A South Korean government investigation found that a quarter of $400m that Hyundai Asan paid the North before the summit was given on behalf of the South Korean government.

Hyundai Asan president Kim Yoon-kyu was among those sentenced.

The others were Lim Dong-won who headed the intelligence services under President Kim; intelligence official Choi-Kyu-baek; ex-presidential economic adviser Lee Ki-ho; and two officials of a state bank, Le Kuen-young and Park Sang-bee.

Communist North Korea continues to hope it can build tourism to relieve the pressure on its shaky economy.

It recently invited advisors from the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) to review its tourist sites.

"There's no reason why there shouldn't be quite strong growth, it's coming off very low numbers," PATA team leader Neil Plimmer said in an interview with Reuters news agency.

Just 380 non-Korean tourists visited North Korea in 2002, according to South Korea's Unification Ministry, though 84,000 Koreans did so.

North Korea's attractions include the Stalinist theme park architecture of the capital; its dramatic, rocky east coat; and Mount Kumgang, whose scenery is celebrated in Korean folk songs.

Hyundai Asan announced on Friday it would take 1,100 visitors to North Korea on 6 October, its biggest ever tour, to inaugurate a new road and gymnasium.

Hyundai chief found dead
04 Aug 03  |  Asia-Pacific
S Koreans charged over summit cash
25 Jun 03  |  Asia-Pacific
S Korea leader sorry for summit scandal
14 Feb 03  |  Asia-Pacific
N Korea funding scandal investigated
24 Jan 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Tests ahead for S Korean leader
25 Feb 03  |  Business
'Seoul paid for summit with North'
30 Jan 03  |  Asia-Pacific
On holiday in North Korea
17 Sep 03  |  Asia-Pacific


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