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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Sept. 7)

All News 06:44 September 07, 2022

No double standards on two cases

Democratic Party (DP) Chairman Lee Jae-myung did not appear at the prosecution office Tuesday for questioning over his earlier statements of wrong facts about the suspicious redevelopment projects in Daejang-dong and Baekhyeon-dong, Seongnam city, where he was mayor. Instead, his aides delivered a written answer. The DP said Lee did not have to attend a questioning session as the reason for the prosecution to summon Lee was his noncompliance with its request for a written statement about what he said during the presidential campaign.

But the DP's explanation is not convincing. Lee, the DP's presidential candidate in the March 9 election, had to answer written questions from prosecutors by August 26. But Lee did not comply with the request. That is in sharp contrast with the case of Rep. Choi Jae-hyung, a lawmaker from the People Power Party (PPP), who faithfully complied with the prosecution's summon and was indicted for using a loud speaker during a banned period to rally support from PPP members in the party's primary to elect its presidential candidate.

The prosecution's investigation into Lee's violation of the Election Law is just the tip of the iceberg given its ongoing probes of a plethora of suspicions surrounding him, including his alleged involvement in the Daejang-dong development project and illegal fundraising for Seongnam FC, not to mention the prosecution's upcoming investigations into his alleged offering of favors for the Baekhyeon-dong development project. Lee is also expected to not appear at the prosecution's office over those allegations. We cannot but wonder if Lee became a lawmaker in a by-election in June and the head of the majority party in August only to help protect himself.

Such reactions from Lee can be attributed to the law enforcement agencies' investigations without principle. The DP is pushing for the appointment of an independent counsel for several allegations against first lady Kim Keon-hee, the wife of President Yoon Suk-yeol, and her family. In fact, the prosecution and the police stopped short of clarifying her alleged fabrication of academic records to work as a lecturer at a college and alleged lies at a press conference before the presidential election. The police have decided not to send such cases to the prosecution.

The prosecution also has dillydallied on its probes of a stock price manipulation case involving the first lady for nine months since its indictment. Law enforcement authorities must set fair and transparent standards even if the first lady was involved in suspicious cases. That will certainly help put our abnormal politics back on track.
(END)

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