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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Aug. 22)

Editorials from Korean dailies 07:06 August 22, 2022

Clear suspicions swiftly and thoroughly

On Friday, the prosecution searched the Presidential Archives to look for evidence of wrongdoing in the previous administration's early shutdown of the Wolseng-1 nuclear reactor and the government's forcible repatriation of two North Korean defectors. The first raid over the suspicious shutdown of the reactor was carried out by investigators from the Daejeon District Prosecutors' Office, while the second raid was conducted by investigators from the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office. It is very rare for the prosecution to carry out a search and seizure on the Presidential Archives twice a day.

Presidential records in the archives can be sealed for up to 30 years. If prosecutors want to access them, they are required to get consent from two thirds of lawmakers or receive a warrant from the head of a high court. The fact that both the Seoul High Court and the Daejeon High Court issued a warrant to prosecutors signifies the urgent need for prosecutors to find the truth behind the two suspicious decisions by the Moon Jae-in administration.

The two cases have raised concerns from economic and human rights perspectives. The liberal administration has been suspected of having decided to send the two defectors back to North Korea to curry favor with the North by ignoring our Constitution that defines North Koreans as our nationals. The brutal scene of our special police force pushing the defectors across the border was shocking.

The Wolsong reactor was probably shut down earlier than its life expectancy in tandem with the Moon administration's policy to wind down nuclear power. After the probes by the Board of Audit and Inspection and the prosecution, the energy minister and a presidential secretary for industrial policy were indicted for charges, including abuse of power.

But the prosecution had trouble looking into related records because they were designated as materials for the Presidential Archives. Since the two courts accepted the need for prosecutors to look into them, the prosecution must find out what really happened in the lead-up to the cases.

But a spokesperson for the Democratic Party (DP) attacked the conservative Yoon Suk-yeol administration for targeting former President Moon Jae-in. To dispel any misunderstandings, the prosecution must find out if there was any illegal intervention by the Blue House to repatriate the two North Korean defectors and what instructions and reports went back and forth in officialdom to close the reactor.

Officials of the past government must not hamper investigations. Since prosecutors have acquired related documents from the Presidential Archives, they must not protract their investigation any longer.
(END)

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