[EDITORIALS]More prosecutor problems

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[EDITORIALS]More prosecutor problems

New appointments in the top ranks of the prosecution were announced Tuesday, nearly 20 days after Lee Myung-jae took office as prosecutor general. That it took so long is interesting, reflecting the hard labor that went into the personnel search and as an indication that there were forces from outside the prosecution influencing the appointments. The apparent difficulty in finding new faces also showed that the government's declaration that the prosecutors are politically independent is just rhetoric.

The appointments were preceded by intense speculation about whether Jeolla natives would fill the No. 2 post at the Supreme Public Prosecutors' Office and the top post at the Seoul District Public Prosecutors' Office. And after President Kim abolished the position of senior Blue House secretary for civil affairs, there was also great interest in what post the incumbent, a prosecutor, would be assigned when he returned to his home agency. He was, in fact, named to a training job at the office. Disagreements about new appointees and last week's unexpected replacement of the minister of justice were also reportedly factors in the delayed announcements; the prosecutors are said to have objected to political pressure to name certain candidates. Even the new prosecutor general reportedly considered resigning.

We can think of two reasons why the government and the ruling party want their Jeolla men in senior prosecution positions. The first is security; they want no free-thinking prosecutors digging into scandals, some of which have already touched big names. The second could be a desire to use the office for political purposes; they know how useful the prosecution can be.

This all runs counter to President Kim's assertions that the prosecutors must be independent. Despite the mess the Prosecutors' Office is in, some people still want to bend it to their own ends. It is also outrageous that some senior prosecutors will use political connections for their own personal gain.

The latest move will put the prosecution under greater scrutiny. An old saying goes, "Those who try to live will die, and those who are willing to give up their lives will live."
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