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[EDITORIALS]Looking Into Draft-Dodging

Apr 26,2001
Expectations are mounting about what the investigation into Park No-hang will reveal. He is an army noncommissioned officer and allegedly a key individual who helped numerous young men avoid the draft. His arrest Wednesday in Seoul, after three years in hiding, is a laudable accomplishment considering that the joint investigative team on draft-dodging of government and military prosecutors was dissolved some time ago. Investigators should seize this opportunity to eradicate completely suspicions about the extent of draft-dodging. Mr. Park's absence was frequently cited as one of the reasons for earlier stalled investigations.

There is a widespread belief that sons of leading figures of our society managed to avoid the draft using illegal means. Many believe power and money can influence draft board decisions and past investigations have partially confirmed that belief.

The failure of all the large-scale investigations in the past intensified the public's distrust. In particular, criticism that the investigations are politically motivated surfaced last year after a large-scale investigation into draft-dodging focused mostly on opposition politicians' sons shortly before the general elections in April. Only one lawmaker was indicted. Perhaps for this reason, the opposition Grand National Party is already alleging that the arrest of Mr. Park was set up. Citing a "reliable intelligence source," Representative Chung Hyung-keun said the government received a letter from Mr. Park three months ago to arrange his arrest.

He claims the arrest will develop into a crackdown on the opposition. While not everything is a conspiracy, investigators should keep in mind that earlier poorly conducted probes fueled those charges..

Investigations into politicians and other prominent figures should be conducted especially thoroughly so that people can agree with the results of the investigations. A thorough investigation is also needed on what Mr. Park did while in hiding and who helped him avoid law enforcement authorities.



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