Updated July. 24, 2014 05:27
Circumstances have emerged indicating that a member of Seoul`s Gangseo Ward Council whose name found on the diary of a murder victim allegedly abetted by Seoul City Council member Kim Hyung-sik sought for the zoning change in an area where the ward councilor owned land. In the diary kept by the victim, identified as his surname Song, to record the bribes he gave to influential people, he wrote that Kim had taken 100 million won (97,656 U.S. dollars) on Nov. 9, 2010 to hand it over to the head of the Gangseo District Office and another district councilor.
During a ward council session on Nov. 25, 2010, the ward councilor claimed that Gangseo had less commercial zones than other districts in Seoul, demanding then urban planning department chief to change the zoning plan and designate the Balsan area as a commercial zone. According to the minutes of the council session, the councilor proposed to conduct a study to change the Balsan area into a commercial zone, claiming that he had discussed the issue with Seoul city council members who viewed it possible to do so.
On December 16 that year, the Gangseo Ward Office`s urban planning department reported to the council`s budget and accounts committee that it increased the budget for the study of the zoning plan by 150 million won (146,484 dollars).
However, on July 7, 2012 when the ward office reported at the council`s welfare and construction committee meeting that the budget execution for the zoning plan change study was postponed due to financial squeezes, the councilor asked whether the office would conduct the study if the Seoul Metropolitan Government provides funds and whether the office was not able to do it within that year. When the urban planning department chief said he was not in the position to discuss what would happen to the planned study, the councilor urged him to seek funds anywhere else.
The Gangseo Ward issued a public notice for a contract for the basic construction work in March 2012 and made a plan to change the zoning plan for the Balsan area after conducting public hearings in January 2013. However, the plan to change the residential zone into a commercial zone was annulled in the following month due to the Seoul Metropolitan Government`s objection.
Alleging that Kim abetted the murder of Song after receiving money in return for using his influence for the zoning change, prosecutors are now investigating into whether the councilor in question was also involved in the case. In a telephone conversation with the Dong-A Ilbo, he said he had never taken from Kim and that he could not recall what he said during the council meetings.