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(EDITORIAL from The Korea JoongAng Daily on Sept. 8)

All Headlines 07:06 September 08, 2016

No more monkey business

The shocking scandal involving a senior prosecutor who has long received money from a schoolmate being investigated for fraud in return for favors lays bare the widespread corruption in our society. If you take a look at the shady dialogue the men indulged in via text messages, it makes us wonder how a senior prosecutor could risk his reputation so blithely. Kim Hyung-joon, the prosecutor in question, was summoned to the Seoul High Prosecutors' Office for investigation after having served as an official at the Korea Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Evidence collected so far strongly suggests that the prosecutor did his best to prevent further investigation of his schoolmate, president of a company, after forcing him to deliver a large sum of money to a pub worker allegedly in an inappropriate relationship with him. It turned out that the prosecutor went so far as to ask his friend to change his cell phone to confuse investigators, an apparent attempt to sweep evidence under the rug. He also lobbied top prosecutors after advising his friend to hire a former senior prosecutor as his lawyer, and used the bank account of the lawyer's wife for money laundering.

The Ministry of Justice's decision to suspend the prosecutor for two months and the Supreme Prosecutors' Office's action to investigate him reflects growing public outrage. An official from the prosecution said that the establishment of a special inspection team comprised of 14 prosecutors and investigators under the leadership of the Seoul High Prosecutors' Office means the beginning of a de facto investigation beyond the realm of an internal inspection.

However, a special investigation will definitely be more effective than an internal inspection given the widespread rumor about a list of prosecutors who also received special treatment from the accused.

The public has a right to be suspicious after the repeated disappointments in investigations of former senior prosecutors suspected of bribery or embezzlement. If prosecutors lose their integrity, the top law enforcement agency has no raison d’être. They must get to the bottom of the case with a sense of urgency.

The prosecution must collect tangible evidence of corruption. People will watch closely to see how the prosecution deals with the latest case following their repeated fumbles in earlier internal corruption scandals. We urge the prosecution to approach this case with zero tolerance for monkey business.

(END)

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