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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Sept. 15)

Editorials from Korean dailies 07:01 September 15, 2020

Critical double standards

Threats to whistle-blowers from lawmakers with close ties to President Moon Jae-in have gone too far. Rep. Kim Gyeong-hyeop, a key aide to former Democratic Party (DP) Chairman Lee Hae-chan, reiterated his suspicion about a soldier who first raised doubts over Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae's son's suspiciously extended sick leave during his military service in 2017. "The authorities must find out who's behind the soldier's allegation that an officer from the ROK [Republic of Korea] Army Headquarters pressured Choo's son's unit to extend his vacation," wrote the ruling party lawmaker on Facebook Monday.

Despite another pro-Moon lawmaker's revelation Saturday of the soldier's full name — and branding him a "criminal" — on Facebook, Moon loyalists do not care at all. Rep. Hwang Hee even raised conspiracy theories on Facebook over the soldier's revealing of Choo's son's sick leave after skipping due procedures. After his post, followers of Moon hurled over-the-top insults at the initial informer, including a threat to kill him.

We are embarrassed at such threats by ruling party lawmakers. The revelation by the soldier can be justified as he found fault with the current justice minister's approach to her son. The DP once upheld protection of whistle-blowers after defining the act as "one of the key values of the DP."

The 100 campaign promises Moon made before the 2017 presidential snap election included a commitment to safeguard informants for public good. The commitments were orchestrated by Choo, then head of the DP. After the party's election victory, its National Planning Advisory Committee, an equivalent to a transitional committee, announced ways to reinforce protection of whistle-blowers.

For instance, the DP praised Ko Young-tae for exposing many suspicious deals between President Park Geun-hye and her confidante Choi Soon-sil. The party called him a "hero." After taking power, however, it took a U-turn. What the DP should have called "heroes" — including a former government official who exposed the Moon Blue House's intervention in appointing corporate leaders; a former investigator who revealed the presidential office's alleged involvement in stopping a probe into corruption of a former aide to President Roh Moo-hyun; and even former Japanese military sex slave Lee Yong-soo, who exposed a civic group's misuse of public donations — had to suffer relentless attacks.

That is an expedient adoption of double standards. Who would blow a whistle if such critical societal values are damaged to an irreparable level? We hope the government does not want a society in which silence is enforced.
(END)

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