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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Nov. 21)

Editorials from Korean dailies 07:11 November 21, 2022

Prosecutors must clear suspicions on DP reps

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office searched the home and office of Democratic Party (DP) Rep. Noh Woong-rae on allegation of having received 60 million won ($45,000) from a businessman in return for favors. The businessman claims that he gave 40 million won to the lawmaker for his election campaign to help his own business and another 20 million won for recommendations for senior posts in a regional tax office and a public utility firm.

Noh has flatly denied the charges, claiming that he has never met the person. But the details on the warrant specified when and where the lawmaker received the money. Prosecutors also obtained a taped record implying bribery. If not for the undeniable evidence, the court would not have granted the warrant for a raid on a heavyweight legislator of the majority party.

Noh served as a member of the Supreme Council of the DP after winning the bid at the convention of the party in August 2020. Prosecutors suspect that the money seeking favor for the businessman's solar panel business went to Noh's campaign for the party post. A four-term lawmaker who has led the DP's think tank on democracy taking bribes to fund his campaigning for parliamentary and party elections could be a huge scandal. The businessman accused of bribing him is said to have lobbied many figures connected to former liberal presidents Roh Moo-hyun and Moon Jae-in. The prosecutorial probe may extend to other DP lawmakers.

The prosecution is said to have found cash traces to DP politicians after arresting Lee Jung-geun, a former deputy secretary general of the DP, on charges of taking bribes of nearly 1 billion won from the businessman in question.

The arrest warrant had the names of 10 figures in the Moon administration and the DP, a governing party at the time. An expanded investigation to other DP members could further unsettle the DP when its chief Lee Jae-myung is implicated in a number of corruption cases while he governed Seongnam city and Gyeonggi province.

The DP has been chanting the same mantra of political suppression on the opposition. But to live up to its 169 seats in the 300-member legislature, the party must comply with investigations by the prosecution and explain itself if it has nothing to hide.

Prosecutors also must find indisputable evidence because the prosecution could face a greater backlash if it cannot prove its cases against the majority party.
(END)

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