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South Korean tycoon, son in trouble over reported beating of bar workers

South Korean tycoon, son in trouble over reported beating of bar workers

Police questioned one of South Korea's richest tycoons Sunday in a sensational case involving the alleged abduction and beating of bar workers in apparent revenge for an altercation with his son.
Kim Seung-youn, chairman and CEO of the Hanwha Group, South Korea's ninth-largest business conglomerate, appeared at a Seoul police station after reportedly refusing earlier summonses.
The questioning was over an alleged incident involving Kim's 22-year-old son, Dong-won, in southern Seoul on March 8 in which he reportedly suffered an injury that required 11 stitches in a scuffle with some off-duty bar employees.
The elder Kim, 55, and his bodyguards, armed with steel pipes and shock devices, later seized eight people, taking them to a mountainous area south of Seoul where they were threatened and beaten, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported Saturday, quoting the alleged abductees and witnesses.
The Kims later sought out another man, the son's alleged assailant who was apparently not among those abducted earlier, said the newspaper, South Korea's largest. The man was beaten by the son as his father wielded a pistol inside a bar in central Seoul, it said.
Police refused to discuss the case Sunday, confirming only that the elder Kim was prohibited from leaving the country. His son has left South Korea for China, but was due back on Monday, according to Hanwha spokesman Ju Cheol-beom.
The sensational details of the case have become front-page news in South Korea, where family-controlled conglomerates dominate the economy, the world's 10th largest. Kim's arrival at the police station was shown live by all news channel YTN TV.
"I am very sorry for causing trouble over a personal issue," Kim told waiting reporters.
Yonhap news agency quoted Kim as saying he would "clear any allegations surrounding me during the police investigation."
Ju said Kim's questioning was originally scheduled to last two hours, but was still going on more than seven hours after his arrival at the police station.
"He denies all suspicions," Ju said.
In a Saturday editorial, the mass-circulation Dong-a Ilbo newspaper equated the case "with an underworld gang movie."
Kim, South Korea's 10th-richest man, is worth about US$850 million (euro624 million), according to Chaebul.com, a Web site that tracks the fortunes of the conglomerate chiefs and their families.
Hanwha was established in 1952 as the Korea Explosives Corp. It later developed interests in petrochemicals, finance, insurance, construction and retail. It also owns the Hanwha Eagles professional baseball team.
The younger Kim is a student at Yale University in the United States.
It remains unclear why it took more than a month for news of the incident to emerge, although the Hankyoreh newspaper said police were suspected of "concealing the truth."
The matter has even drawn the attention of President Roh Moo-hyun's office.
"We expect the police to make a thorough investigation into this case so as not to leave any room for public doubt," the presidential office said in a statement Saturday.
Roh came to office in 2003 calling for stricter controls over conglomerates.
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Associated Press writer Kwang-tae Kim contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-08-06 03:03 GMT+08:00