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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on April 1)

All News 08:57 April 01, 2017

Days of infamy
Park's arrest is cautionary tale for new president

Park Geun-hye was taken to prison before dawn after a review by a judge about whether to imprison her before the beginning of her trial. The judge concluded that the 13 corruption charges brought against her were grave enough to place her under arrest, while noting she could engage in destroying related evidence.

In prison, Park joined Choi soo-sil, a friend of 40 years and partner in crime, who had allegedly coached Park in extorting companies for their private purposes; An Chong-bum, former senior presidential secretary who had served as Park's chief henchman; Lee Jae-yong, Samsung vice chairman who allegedly bought presidential influence; and her chief of staff Kim Ki-choon, who played a key role in the drawing-up of a cultural blacklist, among others.

Park is the third head of state to have been arrested. Some 20 years ago, Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, generals who usurped power in a coup, went to prison.

The Park scandal made a mockery of Korea's democracy as an institution as she acted as if she was a cultish leader of a third-world banana republic and turned the office of the presidency into an extortion criminal ring that preyed on and colluded with chaebol.

The institutions of democracy in Korea were rendered powerless as the National Assembly failed to play its role of checking and balancing the wayward executive branch and government agencies merely followed orders from above. People revolted to take up the cause of punishing the corrupt leader through massive candlelit protests. Then, much of the government's normal function hangs in the balance despite many internal and external challenges.

Therefore, there is nothing short of calling the recent months of turbulence Korea's period of infamy. We should have it etched in our collective memory and never forget it. One purpose of memorizing it is to have a new president learn the lessons and be a better leader.

First, the next president should be transparent in running the nation.

Park had kept herself incommunicado from her staff and only consulted with her evil friend, causing state affairs to be conducted without being scrutinized.

Second, the next president should reach out to his opponents and create as broad a consensus as possible before implementing key state affairs.

Park was elected by those who missed her father Park Chung-hee, the dictator who led the country with an iron fist for 18 years, and conservatives. She was the president for half the nation.

Third, the new president should brace for the wrath of people power, if he emulates the tradition of an imperial presidency.

Park acted as if she were an empress who nobody could hold accountable.

Ultimately it is the responsibility of us, the people, who should get interested in the way the nation is run and keep our eyes peeled to see whether the leader behaves.

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