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(EDITORIAL from The Korea Herald on Aug. 26)

All Headlines 07:15 August 26, 2016

Comical twist
Woo scandal exposes Blue House's folly

The scandal surrounding Woo Byung-woo, the senior presidential secretary for civil affairs, exposes the foolishness of President Park Geun-hye and her administration.

The prosecution has launched an investigation into Woo, as requested by the independent inspector general, Lee Suk-su, who looked into allegations involving the top Blue House aide.

A comic twist is that the same prosecution task force -- named by Prosecutor-General Kim Soo-nam -- is also investigating Lee over allegation that he leaked information about the probe on Woo to the media.

Behind this awkward turn of events is the ill-advised moves of the Blue House to protect Woo, who has been under mounting public pressure to step down.

The scandal came to the fore through a questionable real estate deal between the family of Woo's wife and the online game-maker Nexon, whose founder was embroiled in a corruption scandal involving Woo's former fellow prosecutor.

Then came one allegation after another including those about favors given to his son, a conscripted police trooper, and about wealth kept by him and the rich family of his wife.

By sacking him and verifying the allegations through investigation by the prosecution, Park could have kept the scandal from becoming a major crisis.

Instead, Park thought her opponents were on a witch-hunt to damage her presidency. On several occasions, she said administration officials should brave what she called political offensives and "persevere" in their service to the nation.

A senior Blue House official also said recently that "some media and leftists are trying to shake the president" and that is the essence of the Woo scandal. This reflects the sentiment of Park and her aides.

At any rate, the president asked the inspector general to investigate the allegations involving Woo, which, as it is widely believed, was nothing but an attempt to clear the trusted aide.

Perhaps contrary to what Park had expected, Lee decided to ask the prosecution to investigate Woo regarding two allegations: one about his son and the other about the suspected embezzlement of funds at a construction firm run by his family.

The Blue House did not hide its embarrassment and accused Lee of intentionally leaking information about the investigation to the media. It was not prudent for Lee to discuss the sensitive issue with journalists before he made a formal announcement, but it is hardly an "incident that shakes the base of the nation," as described by a senior Blue House aide.

For now, the ball is in the prosecution's court and where it will end up is up to the task force. The last thing they should do is try to water down Woo's case by putting undue weight on Lee’s alleged leaks.

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