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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Sept. 10)

Editorials from Korean dailies 07:07 September 10, 2021

Reveal the truth
: Rival parties should stop political maneuvering

The ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) is stepping up its offensive against Yoon Seok-youl, a leading presidential contender of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP), over allegations that he attempted to meddle in politics while serving as prosecutor general. Yet the DPK is also inviting criticism for resorting to political maneuvering to foil Yoon's presidential ambitions.

The political meddling scandal erupted last week after online news outlet Newsverse reported the allegations. The report said a prosecutor in charge of investigation intelligence at the Supreme Prosecutors' Office pushed the United Future Party (UFP), a predecessor of the PPP, to file complaints against three ruling bloc figures ahead of the April 2020 general election. The prosecutor was identified as Son Jun-sung, a close aide to Yoon.

The story alleged that Son asked Kim Woong, a former prosecutor and now a PPP lawmaker, to lodge defamation complaints against Rhyu Si-min, a prominent liberal figure of the ruling bloc. Other targeted figures were Choe Kang-wook and Hwang Hee-seok who won a National Assembly seat on the ticket of the minor liberal Open Democratic Party, a satellite party of the DPK. Son allegedly delivered the actual letters containing the complaints to Kim for him to get the UFP to file the accusations with the prosecution.

Yoon should now strive to clear up the allegations that he might have instructed Kim to punish the three figures who allegedly colluded with seven journalists to spread "fake news" about his wife who was purportedly involved in stock price manipulation. If the allegations are true, Yoon may face criminal charges for abuse of power as the prosecution chief at the time. His alleged involvement might have been aimed at intervening in the elections. Such an act, if verified, cannot and should not be tolerated as it could pose a serious threat to democracy.

But, those allegations have yet to be confirmed. Yoon, Son and Kim have all denied any involvement in the scandal. On Wednesday Kim held a news conference, but failed to give a sufficient explanation, deepening the mystery of the scandal. Yoon, for his part, strongly accused the DPK of staging a political maneuver against him based on "groundless accusations."

The PPP also denounced the DPK for waging a mudslinging campaign against Yoon in a move to force him out of the presidential race. In this situation, the DPK had better refrain from its offensive against Yoon and his party. Continuing an attack on Yoon without presenting any evidence will only undermine the DPK's credibility and stymie fair competition in the upcoming March 2022 election.

Most of all, it is urgent for the law enforcement authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the scandal to get to the bottom of it. All the parties involved should cooperate in revealing the truth. The rival parties and their presidential hopefuls should stop slandering each other and play fair by engaging in heated policy debates to offer better visions for the future.

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