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S. Korean leader sorry for summit scandal

From Rebecca MacKinnon
CNN Correspondent

Kim Dae-jung
Kim Dae-jung admitted he knew the payment deal was against the law

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Special report: Two Koreas 

SEOUL, South Korea -- Outgoing South Korean President Kim Dae-jung has apologized on national television for a scandal involving relations with the North.

The controversy centers on payments made to Pyongyang by a South Korean shipping company -- allegedly in return for a historic inter-Korea summit in June 2000.

"I am really sorry for causing deep concern to the Korean people owing to the controversy," Kim said in a televised speech Friday.

"As a person, I feel miserable and my heart is aching."

A branch of the Hyundai Corporation has admitted to transferring nearly $200 million to North Korea just a few days before the historic summit in Pyongyang.

President Kim Dae-jung says his government was aware of the transfer but insists the money was for business deals -- tourism projects, railroad links, and an industrial park -- that Hyundai was conducting in North Korea.

The deal was done in the interests of peace and national security, he said, stopping short of admitting or acknowledging any wrongdoing.

"I shall take responsibility for this situation, but I ask the people to understand that this was done in sincerity in the interest of peace and the national interest," Kim said.

South Korea's national security adviser insisted the government allowed the payments to go ahead at the time of the summit in an effort to ease tensions.

Opposition lawmakers are calling for a full investigation saying the payments are proof the summit was bought, and calling into question the "Sunshine Policy" for which Kim won the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize.

State prosecutors shelved an investigation into the matter earlier this month and incoming President Roh Moo-hyun has called for a political rather than a legal settlement.

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