Korean PM Resigns In Tax Scandal

Prime Minister Park Tae-joon resigned Friday after a court ruled that he had concealed his ownership of properties in a bid to avoid large tax payments.

President Kim Dae-jung accepted Park's resignation and appointed Finance Minister Lee Hun-jai to serve as acting prime minister, the president's office said.

Park's successor will be named next week.

Opposition parties and civic groups had called on Park to quit and issue a public apology after a court said this week that he put property valued at $5.3 million under another person's name to avoid paying taxes.

Park hid his properties under the name of his private treasurer from 1988 to 1993, when he served as the chairman of the now-defunct ruling Democratic Liberal Party. He was also head of the state-run Pohang Iron and Steel Co.

At that time, Park's act was legal. Since then, the law governing the concealment of property under another's name has been changed to make it illegal.

"Prime Minister Park's bid to conceal his properties for tax evasion cannot be tolerated on moral grounds, although he has no legal responsibilities," The Korea Times quoted Citizens Action Network, an advocacy group, as saying in a statement.