[EDITORIALS]Clean Up the Mess at the NIS

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[EDITORIALS]Clean Up the Mess at the NIS

When will the government's law enforcement authorities stop degrading themselves? Having been forced repeatedly to reinvestigate cases and put up with special counsels, the prosecution is the target of the public's distrust. The National Intelligence Service, another pillar of law enforcement, has humiliated itself. Kim Eun-seong, the service's former deputy director in charge of domestic intelligence, and his subordinates are said to have been involved in the Chin Seung-hyun and Chung Hyun-joon scandals. The spy agency's failings include everything from the abuse of power to the banding together of alumni from certain schools and people from certain regions to a secret line of command within the powerful organization.

The most serious problem is the favoritism based on school, family, and regional ties. Kim Eun-seong's subordinates are from the same region. They monopolized sensitive information on the domestic economy and politics and used the data for personal benefit. In particular, they are said to have cultivated a relationship with the old Donggyo-dong faction, ignoring the official line of command at the NIS.

Last December, when they were allegedly involved in questionable activities, Lim Dong-won was in charge of the NIS. He publicly promised to focus the NIS on matters regarding inter-Korean relations and not intervene in domestic politics. But the agency's high-ranking officials apparently ingnored Mr. Lim's words. The problem is that they seemed to have tried to save themselves through their contacts inside the prosecution and the ruling camp, without reporting first to Mr. Lim. The NIS should clear up this matter first. An inquiry should review whether the prosecution probed the scandals appropriately.

The NIS is still the most influential institution in the nation. President Kim should become personally involved in overhauling the agency. If he finds that individuals or a group of individuals violated the line of command in the agency, he should discipline the agency appropriately. President Kim will be able to focus on what he plans to do to take care of the people as a bipartisan president once the law enforcement authorities stand upright.
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