[EDITORIALS]Dynamic corruption

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[EDITORIALS]Dynamic corruption

The detention of Shin Kwang-ok, former deputy justice minister, have gotten the last year of the Kim Dae-jung administration off to a rocky start. The prosecution reportedly believes that he took bribes from Chin Seung-hyun when Mr. Shin was a senior secretary to the president for civil affairs. That is a key position from which the government audits and inspects officials' work and enforces governing principles. Mr. Shin was the point man for the administration that pledged to keep its law enforcement efforts strict and fair. That might be why he was scowling so fiercely as he was heading for prison. In the end, he was nothing more than another example of how the level of ethics in the administration has fallen. President Kim expressed his regret over Mr. Shin's detention, saying, "I feel very much ashamed and sorry for the people." It is well that he said so; Mr. Shin's detention has a symbolic as well as a legal one.

When President Kim took office, he said, "There will be no more collusion between political power and business groups as in the Hanbo Steel scandal." He also called for reform of law enforcement authorities, saying, " The National Intelligence Service will be changed into an information agency trusted and loved by the people." But near the end of his term, the law enforcement authorities are tainted by several scandals and are far from the ones that President Kim promised. Political figures colluded with start-up firm owners instead of with big business groups. It is unprecedented for the senior secretary for civil affairs to be arrested during the term of the president he served. Never before has one case brought both the head of domestic intelligence at the NIS and the senior presidential secretary for civil affairs to the courts. This is a new high point in government corruption.

President Kim once said, "A coverup is worse than wrongdoing." He says he will now focus on running the government rather than politicking; he needs to clear up these scandals.

Next year's government catch-phrase is "Dynamic Korea" and the focus is on World Cup preparations. Popular frustration over scandals is a bad backdrop for dynamism. The people will exult in the World Cup only when all suspicions are cleared up and all responsible persons, without exception, are rooted out.
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