Former Korean Central Intelligence Agency agent Sang Keun Kmi conceded on the witness stand yesterday that he is giving inconsistent testimony against a Korean-born businessman on trial here, but attributed it to his faulty memory.
"About the matter of human memory, it is not something that is inscribed on the head, and recollection is often difficult," Kim said through an interpreter as he was completing his third day on the witness stand.
Kim is the main government witness against Hancho Kim, a cosmetics manufacturer who, S. K. Kim said, was given $600,000 in Korean government money to influence members of the U.S. Congress. Hancho Kim is charged with conspiracy to influence members of Congress and lying to a grand jury investigating the Korean influence-buying scandal.
Kim is the first person to go to trial on criminal charges in connection with the scandal. He denies receiving any of the money, and says he is apparently being made the "fall guy" of a KCIA plot to steal money from the Korean government and hide it in the United States.
Yesterday was the first full day of cross-examination of S. K. Kim by Hancho Kim's attorney, David Povich. Provich spent much of the day asking Kim about the organizational structure of the KCIA and about his alleged role as the "bagman" between the KCIA and Hancho Kim.
S. K. Kim often disputed earlier statements he reportedly had made to FBI agents and prosecutors who debriefed him after his defection from the KCIA, and said his current testimony is the "most accurate version."
For example, Kim testified yesterday that he had dropped by the Korean embassy before delivering $300,000 in cash to Hancho Kim on one occasion. In an earlier version of the delivery, he had not discussed any such visit to the embassy and gave other seemingly contradictory details of the delivery.
Kim also testified yesterday that he had never made any reports to his superiors about Hancho Kim's payoffs to members of Congress because he felt he was a "low-ranking guy."
"I was confined to an understanding that Mr. Hancho Kim would make a report," S. K. Kim said. At the same time, he added, he did not believe Hancho Kim was making the payoffs, but still did not tell his superiors.
The government has said it has no evidence that Hancho Kim paid any money to any memebers of Congress.