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[Editorial] Do not disturb probe

Ruling camp criticizes prosecution investigating allegations about justice minister nominee

The ruling camp appears willing to do anything to ensure the appointment of Justice Minister nominee Cho Kuk.

Senior Presidential Secretary for Political Affairs Kang Gi-jung argued the prosecution appeared to have leaked suspicions about Cho to the press, and demanded Prosecutor-General Yoon Seok-youl investigate the prosecution over his alleged information leak.

The Cheong Wa Dae official’s remarks seem to be intended to tame the prosecution. They smack against the rule of law. In a democracy, prosecution investigations must be conducted independently.

A few days ago, Kang pressed the “Like” button on a Facebook post by a lawyer saying that Yoon must be punished for leaking secret investigation information to news media.

Lee Hae-chan, leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, condemned the prosecution for “disturbing the nation” by raiding multiple sites in connection with suspicions about the nominee. Cho Jung-sik, chief policymaker of the party, criticized the prosecution for repeating an “obsolete evil” by leaking confidential investigation information to the press.

The prosecution was applauded by the current regime for leading its signature drive to eliminate the evils of past governments, but now has suddenly become an evil force.

Regarding the prosecution’s investigation, other lawmakers within the party mentioned “an undemocratic act to restrict presidential authority,” “a misjudged behavior by the politically motivated prosecution to protect its vested interests” and “an unlawful move against human rights.”

On July 16 when President Moon Jae-in appointed Yoon as prosecutor-general, Moon asked him to “deal with sleaze in strict fairness, regardless of whether it is committed by influential incumbent officials of Cheong Wa Dae, the government or the ruling party.”

At that time, the ruling party hailed Yoon as “the best qualified prosecutor-general of all time” and “the right man who can renew the prosecution for the people.”

Then, it did an about-face and menaced the prosecution as soon as it started to investigate a pile of suspicions surrounding one of Moon’s most trusted allies.

Efforts to cover up for Cho have gone beyond common sense.

Moon Joon-yong, son of President Moon, posted on Facebook that criticisms of Cho’s daughter are unfair. “She has achieved great performances, but people do not talk about her exertions. Maybe she is being distressed to see her life denied,” he said, “If she wants, she may speak up, ‘It’s unfair.’”

It is inappropriate for the son of a president to express his opinions publicly on issues related to his father’s personnel decisions.

Above all else, Cho’s daughter is suspected of having listed her name illegitimately as the lead author of a professional pathology thesis when she was a high school student to window-dress her academic achievements. She also received scholarships for six straight semesters when she attended Pusan National University’s Graduate School of Medicine, despite being suspended twice for failing grades.

University students and young people are infuriated by apparent favors that no ordinary person could imagine, but which she enjoyed thanks to the halo of her father.

Rhyu Si-min, chairman of the board of the Roh Moo Hyun Foundation, ridiculed candlelight rallies by Seoul National University students calling for Cho’s resignation.

“Who knows if students with pure motives were outnumbered by onlookers connected to the (main opposition) Liberty Korea Party at the rally?” he said.

Rhyu argued neither moral problems nor serious illegalities regarding Cho were found, and condemned the prosecution’s investigation as a “low-grade thriller showing villains who take a hero’s family members hostage when they fail to suppress him.”

Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung of the ruling party posted on Facebook, “The current situation surrounding Cho is similar to witch hunts.”

The remarks by these people are sophistry out of touch with public sentiment. Their defenses of Cho have gone too far. They deny apparent suspicions altogether and turn a deaf ear to people’s cries of indignation. They praise the prosecution if it investigates their opponents, but attack it with harsh and blunt words if it investigates their allies. Cornered by public anger, they are showing their unsightly true colors.