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S.Korean tycoon arrested, taken to jail

  International  -   POSTED: 2007/05/12 11:24

A South Korean business tycoon was behind bars Saturday after his arrest for allegedly beating up bar workers in retaliation for an attack on his 22-year old son.

Police planned to question Hanwha Group chairman and CEO Kim Seung-youn, who is suspected of kicking, punching and using a steel pipe to attack staff allegedly involved in a scuffle with his son on March 8 at a karaoke club.

Late Friday, the Seoul District Court issued an arrest warrant for Kim, making him the first tycoon to be arrested for assault, according to local media.

"I feel calm," Kim told reporters as police officers took him to Namdaemun Police Station in central Seoul on Friday.

In a statement released through his company, Kim said he would "humbly accept the law's judgment."

"I plan to explain everything that I know, truthfully and sincerely," the statement said. "I am very pained and ashamed for not having been honest for the past two months."

The dramatic details of the case, which media have likened to a gangster movie, has drawn intense public interest in South Korea, where the heads of family controlled conglomerates wield great economic, political and social clout.

The younger Kim, a student at Yale University, reportedly suffered an injury that required 11 stitches in the scuffle on stairs outside the karaoke club.

Victims have told police the elder Kim and his bodyguards took them to a mountainous area south of Seoul, where Kim himself allegedly assaulted them, including hitting one of them on the back with a 5-foot steel pipe.

They have also told police Kim later sought out another man at a bar in central Seoul and had his son beat him, according to a police statement.

Yonhap news agency reported Saturday that Kim had also used an electroshock device on the bar workers. Kim has admitted to assaulting the club's staff, but denied using a steel pipe or an electroshock device, the report said.

Earlier Friday, Kim said he regretted failing "to control impulsive emotion" and apologized for causing trouble.

"I hope there will never be a silly father like me again," Kim told reporters after a court hearing to determine his arrest.

Newspaper editorials on Saturday called for a fair investigation.

"The judiciary has to show to the public ... that everyone is equal before the law," the Dong-a Ilbo daily said in an editorial. "Wrong perceptions and practices in our society can only be corrected through a strict trial and judgment."

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.


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