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(EDITORIAL from The Korea Times on Jan. 25)

All News 07:01 January 25, 2017

Reflection on blacklist
: Culture ministry's public apology blamed for lacking sincerity

The culture ministry offered a public apology for its role in the creation of a list of anti-government artists, Monday. The apology came two days after former Culture Minister Cho Yoon-sun and Kim Ki-choon, a former presidential chief of staff, were arrested by special prosecutors for allegedly initiating the so-called cultural blacklist.

The existence of the blacklist had been substantiated by Cho's testimony at a National Assembly hearing earlier this month and also by President Park Geun-hye's first culture minister, Yoo Jin-ryong, who was sacked in the midst of an overseas visit to Russia in July 2014. Before being removed, Yoo reportedly told President Park Geun-hye not to proceed with the blacklist, but she ignored the suggestion.

The list has angered so many Koreans because it has set this country back more than 30 years. The ministry's apology, however, fell short of addressing some lingering questions many have about the particulars of the creation and management of the list. The apology was particularly faulty since it did not contain specific measures about how the ministry plans to prevent similar cases in the future.

The insincere apology shows the ministry's lack of understanding about the gravity of the situation. The discriminatory list of anti-government figures is an intolerable affront to our democracy and constitutional values. It is unthinkable that a ministry should take an active part in the kind of shameful practice that existed during the authoritarian rule decades ago.

As Yoo pointed out, all high-level officials at the culture ministry are not free from responsibility for the blacklist. First Vice Minister Song Soo-keun, the acting minister, delivered the apology, but he is also suspected of involvement. Song should have been clear about exactly who and which department or affiliated organizations were involved in its management. But he fielded questions about disciplinary action on officials involved and only said the ministry will take necessary measures after the investigation by the special prosecutor is concluded.

The ministry should immediately launch its own internal investigation of its part in the list and clearly explain to the people exactly when and how it became involved.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the root of the blacklist lies in Cheong Wa Dae. The presidential office should also apologize for attempting to crack down on people that have opposing views from the government.

There has been no word from Cheong Wa Dae except to say that the President had nothing to do with it. The people will not tolerate this kind of irresponsible approach, which will only aggravate public sentiment ahead of the Constitutional Court's ruling on the president's impeachment.
(END)

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