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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on April 18)

Editorials from Korean dailies 07:08 April 18, 2022

Moon must break his silence

Prosecutor General Kim Oh-soo handed in his resignation on Sunday to protest the ruling Democratic Party's (DP) submission of two bills aimed at stripping the prosecution of its authority to investigate once and for all. The resignation of a pro-government prosecutor with over a year left in his term is shocking. Kim was appointed by President Moon Jae-in as the top prosecutor last May.

Kim issued a statement lamenting the DP's railroading of bills depriving the top law enforcement agency of its investigation authority just a year after the redistribution of investigative authority between prosecution and police. Taking responsibility for the top law enforcement authority turning into a target for reform, Kim said, "Establishing a new criminal law system calls for at least 10 years of trial as it greatly affects the human rights of the people."

The prosecutor general has appealed to the Ministry of Justice and the National Assembly against the removal of investigative authority from prosecutors on the remaining six crimes, including those related to corruption, economy, public employees, elections, defense procurement and massive disasters. The tendering of his resignation affirms the rashness of the DP's legislative move.

Kim's announcement was anticipated when the DP on Friday submitted revisions to the Criminal Procedure Act and the Prosecution Act to a department handling the affair in the legislature. On the very day of the submission, Kim pleaded with lawmakers to impeach him first. After President Moon refused Kim's request for a meeting to explain demerits of the revision, prosecutors across the country vehemently resisted the push by the government.

The bills are full of loopholes. According to the revision, the police can wield enormous power from the moment of grabbing investigative authority from the prosecution, but there is no mechanism to keep the police in check. The current Criminal Procedure Act allows the prosecution to demand the police take measures to correct human rights violations committed in the course of investigations. But the two bills eliminated the relevant article.

If the prosecution is forced to hand over a number of sensitive cases under investigation to the police after the revision goes into effect, ongoing investigations into the Blue House's alleged intervention in the Ulsan mayoral election and the Moon administration's apparent fabrication of data on the economic feasibility of the Wolseong reactor shutdown must stop.

The DP's relentless efforts to shake the very foundation of Korea's judicial system after being emboldened by its supermajority in the legislature must be stopped. The time has come for President Moon and the National Assembly speaker to put the brakes on it.

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