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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Dec. 2)

Editorials from Korean dailies 07:01 December 02, 2020

Choo must resign

The Seoul Administrative Court on Tuesday put on hold Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae's suspension of Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl from active duty. The ministry's internal inspection committee also reached the conclusion that the justice minister's request for Yoon's suspension and censure was inappropriate. After the court's ruling, however, the government and ruling Democratic Party (DP) seem to have turned to a very political solution to the mess: the simultaneous stepping down of both the justice minister and the top prosecutor. That does not make sense.

On Tuesday, the court accepted Yoon's request for a suspension of Choo's decision to remove him from duty. After the ruling, Yoon immediately resumed his job as prosecutor general. The court's ruling was anticipated given the unanimous call from junior and senior prosecutors across the country to reconsider the minister's outrageous suspension decision. They do, after all, know something about the law. Despite the DP's persistent drive to oust Yoon though, the court recognized his argument that the justice minister ignored required procedures.

Moreover, prosecutors in charge of internal inspections in the top law enforcement agency also made their voices heard. Signs of an internal rift were evident in a meeting of the inspection committee on Tuesday morning. When the head of the inspection office in the ministry said he had not been briefed about Yoon's case, his subordinate, a female prosecutor, attacked him for "putting the shame on me." However, the female prosecutor admitted that she had to skip briefing her immediate boss because of the minister's order to keep things mum.

Choo is not backing down although the situation is getting worse for her. A vice justice minister, who was supposed to act as chairman of a disciplinary committee on Yoon's case, tendered his resignation yesterday. The justice minister is facing an uphill battle against Yoon.

The ruling party has come up with the novel idea of a simultaneous exit of Choo and Yoon. In a meeting with Moon last month, Prime Minister Chung Se-kyun expressed deep concerns about the protracted war between the two political heavyweights. In Tuesday's cabinet meeting, Chung had a face-to-face meeting with Choo, who later entered the Blue House and met with the president. All of that shows heightened tension in the ruling camp before the court's ruling.

But it does not make sense to demand a simultaneous resignation of Choo and Yoon. It is Choo who started the fuss from the beginning. Choo must step down and the Blue House and DP must apologize for the mess they allowed her to create.
(END)

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