SOUTH Korean President Kim Young-sam yesterday tried to distance himself from the scandal which is fast becoming as complex and strange as any event in this nation since he took office in 1993. He told senior party officials yesterday that he had no knowledge of illicit funds amassed by predecessor Roh Tae-woo and was not involved in managing the fund. Yet at the same time, Mr Kim conceded that his 1992 election campaign may have received large donations from the fund. He failed to give a figure and denied knowledge of the donation. Many Koreans were sceptical about his remarks. They pointed out that while the President may claim he kept his inauguration promise not to accept a 'red penny' in political donations, he has not explained how he funded his campaign before the 1992 election. His ruling Democratic Liberal Party (DLP) claimed it would be inappropriate to account for campaign funds before the investigation is complete. An intriguing theory is circulating in Seoul about the circumstances surrounding the discovery of the fund. Rumour has it that the scandal is part of President Kim's campaign to effect a generational change in Korea's political structure, by exposing Mr Roh's links to veteran opposition leader and rival Kim Dae-jung. Supporters of the theory point out that prior to opposition lawmaker Park Kye-dong's disclosure of bank documents showing the existence of the fund, a leading DLP lawmaker had reported rumours that a former president had stashed large amounts of money when in office. Mr Park has not said how he got the documents. Although political analysts dismiss the theory, there is no doubt that Kim Dae-jung's reputation was severely tarnished on Sunday after admitting to taking funds from Mr Roh. This was compounded when Mr Kim insisted that those responsible for the bloody suppression of the 1980 Kwangju Uprising be taken to court. Mr Roh has long been suspected of being involved in suppressing the civilian revolt. President Kim is also feeling the heat. There is intense public interest in the scandal, which has served to confirm what most Korean's suspected anyway: that most senior politicians are guilty of political graft. Whatever the outcome, it would be fair to say that voters outraged at the latest example of the 'Korean disease' are likely to deliver President Kim's desire for a new generation of political leaders - by voting out all politicians active in the days of military-backed rule.