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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Nov. 23)

Editorials from Korean Dailies 09:21 November 23, 2019

Something's fishy, again

Busan vice mayor for economic affairs Yoo Jae-soo has been summoned by the prosecution in Seoul on allegations that he pocketed bribes worth 30 million won ($25,500). The investigation comes nine months after a complaint was filed against former presidential secretary of civil affairs Cho Kuk who allegedly interrupted with the special inspection into Yoo.

Yoo is suspected of receiving various perks and graft from the financial industry when he headed the financial policy bureau at the Financial Services Commission (FSC) in 2017.

His case has received attention because it also refers to past allegations about the Blue House cover-up raised by whistle-blower Kim Tae-woo who filed complaints about Cho and other secretaries in the Blue House for interfering with his inspection into Yoo and others while he had been dispatched from the prosecution to the presidential office as a special investigator.

Kim was sacked from the Blue House and the prosecution. After resigning from the FSC, Yoo moved to the ruling Democratic Party in April last year and was appointed as vice mayor in July.

A public servant who had been accused of wrongdoing was instead picked up by the ruling party and even rewarded with a high public post in the FSC. Yoo had been a secretary to former liberal President Roh Moo-hyun. But that alone cannot explain how he could have enjoyed such heavy protection and special treatment under the ruling power. Why the investigation had been stalled until now also raises questions.

Cho is said to have approved of the special inspection into Yoo. But an order to stop it could have come from a higher level. If President Moon Jae-in or others in the government who claim to be completely innocent of corruption are found to be involved, the ramifications could be huge. The Blue House and Justice Ministry must ensure the affair is thoroughly investigated. The prosecution also must be extra strict with the investigation to leave no doubts hanging.
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