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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Sept. 14)

Editorials from Korean dailies 06:53 September 14, 2020

More stonewalling

Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae has apologized for "causing concerns over my son's military service." But she did not resign despite a plethora of allegations against her demanding favorable treatment for her son during his service. And yet Choo stressed the importance of "doing my best to carry out prosecutorial reforms." Her brazen statement translates into an excuse for whatever she did for her son, a declaration of no legal responsibility and pronouncement of a determination to keep her position as justice minister no matter what.

The statement released by Choo did not include any explanation of whether she pressured the Ministry of National Defense to extend her son's sick leave. She also kept silent over whether one of her aides really called up an officer to request an extension of her son's sick leave on her behalf. It is shameful for her to evade the essence of the problem by promising prosecutorial reforms.

Choo has set the frame in which any attacks over her son's military service are meant to hinder her crusade to reform the prosecution. We are embarrassed to see a guardian of justice resort to such sly logic to justify the privileges her son received during military service. That's a tactic quite similar to what we saw in the course of the Cho Kuk scandal last year.

Lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Party (DP) are rushing to defend Choo. Rep. Hwang Hee posted on Facebook conspiracy theories about a soldier who first raised doubts about Choo's son's extension of vacation during his service. "It seems he is not alone. Other accomplices also are likely involved in leaking the case," he wrote. He attributes accusations against Choo's son to conservatives resisting government-led prosecution reforms

Choo promoted prosecutors who dragged their feet investigating her son's case and demoted prosecutors who earnestly probed corruption among top government officials and DP lawmakers. She dispatched all prosecutors close to Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl to the boondocks after they dug up dirt on presidential aides and senior officials.

Despite DP Chairman Lee Nak-yon's urge to behave discreetly, pro-Moon politicians are embracing Choo due to their worries about a lame duck presidency. The Blue House has declared a tougher approach to public discipline in officialdom to put a gag on any whistleblowers.

Such strategies cannot conceal the truth. Choo must tell what happened to her son if she really wants to serve the Moon administration. People are not fools who would applaud a government that tries to hoodwink them.
(END)

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