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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Oct. 9)

Editorials from Korean Dailies 08:56 October 09, 2019

Heads in the wind

Justice Minister Cho Kuk announced plans to reform the prosecution a month after he assumed his weighty position. But he did not apologize for the mushrooming scandal involving his family nor took any responsibility for that. How can he carry out prosecutorial reforms under such circumstances?

Before television cameras, Cho demonstrated a determination to finish his mission to reform the prosecution, which has been accused of exercising unchecked power in the past. He would set up an anti-corruption department to replace the powerful special investigation department — an effective tool for persecuting anti-government figures under any administration — and revise investigative rules to protect human rights by banning overnight interrogations. He also vowed to veer the Justice Ministry away from the prosecution's influence.

But Cho concentrated on the pain he has received from the prosecution while his family members were under investigation -- instead of reflecting on their wrongdoings. "Though there have been painful moments for me, I sincerely thank the people for encouraging me to push prosecutorial reforms," he said. "I will do my best to finish the job until the end." He did not say anything about the alarming division of public opinion or an ominous fall in public trust in the administration as a result of his family and the suspicions that surround them. What he said sounded a whole lot like sophistry.

When he was announcing his reform plans, Cho's wife was being questioned by prosecutors from the special investigation department of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office for the third time. On the same day, his brother was summoned to a court to determine if he should be detained for further investigation. Cho himself could be interrogated by those special prosecutors. Should a minister in such a position be discussing ways to revamp the special investigation department?

According to a Korea Research survey, the Moon Jae-in administration's approval rating plunged to 32.4 percent, the lowest since its launch in May 2017. 49.4 percent of respondents disapproved of Moon's government. His remark that he did not regard the massive rallies being held as a division of public opinion are being mocked. How can he be so aloof as the leader of this country?

Moon must let Cho go. If the scandal continues, it will thrust the country into an unheard-of crisis. Moon must find his replacement as soon as possible and Cho must stop using his post as a shield for his family. That's the kind of justice Moon once championed.
(END)

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