[EDITORIALS]Reveal document's details

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[EDITORIALS]Reveal document's details

The independent counsel investigating Lee Yong-ho-gate announced in its interim briefing that it has obtained a document on "reform the press" from the residence of Lee Soo-dong, the former executive director of Kim Dae-jung Peace Foundation. That is all the counsel is willing to say, citing that the nature of the document's contents lies beyond its jurisdiction.

Press reform has been a prevailing agenda item from the outset of this administration. In 1998, a so-called "Moon Il-hyun" document, drafted by a former JoongAng Ilbo reporter, emerged. A 1999 tax audit of a JoongAng Ilbo affiliated company, of which the newspaper's publisher was the majority owner, was conducted, according to the document. Then last year, the country's three major dailies were subject to a strident probe by the central tax agency. On both occasions questions were raised about who drafted the reform plan and what organizations were involved, but the details were not disclosed. Thus, the document obtained from Mr. Lee's house concerning press reform cannot simply be dismissed.

The document, which is about seven pages, bears this title: "In order to complete the reforms and to strengthen the administration, a reform of the central dailies is imminent." That is all the information currently available to the press. "We cannot determine who wrote the document or when it was written, and it seems different from the one that had raised public uproar before," said a member on the independent counsel team. Mr. Lee remains tight-lipped about how it ended up in his house. His lawyer explains that he does not remember the document, and suggests it contains material equivalent to rumors floating in the stock market.

In any event, the real nature of the document must be determined. Depending on that nature, the document may have the explosive significance to overshadow any corruption case. If it is found that the press reform was planned by people like Mr. Lee and others working from the outside, how does that render the political and moral identity of this administration?

If the matter is beyond the independent counsel's jurisdiction, the government should let the public know the facts. Questions surrounding the writer, the date and the reasons for the document abound. They will loom larger unless the truth becomes known.
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