[EDITORIALS]Sneaking back home

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[EDITORIALS]Sneaking back home

The tactics used to prevent reporters from tracking down a son of President Kim Dae-jung returning from the United States seem like a sloppy replica of a James Bond movie. The Tuesday operation to give reporters the slip, which appeared to be directed by the Blue House and featuring intelligence agents and prosecutors in supporting roles, was carried out in an organized way. Thanks to those efforts, Kim Hong-gul's entry into Korea through Incheon International Airport was not filmed.

The successful operation may have been a cause for euphoria to key figures in the current regime, but Koreans think the Blue House is out of touch with reality. We think that such a plan was devised mainly because the Blue House has no understanding of how much of a grudge the public has about the president's son's involvement in such a scandal.

There was an amazing division of labor in the operation, which featured disinformation, feints and decoys. Beginning Tuesday afternoon, when rumors about Mr. Kim's return to Korea for interrogation began to circulate among the local press corps, Blue House officials played dumb. They said, "He's still in America. The prosecutors demand that he appear for interrogation by 2 p.m. Wednesday, but that's simply impossible." Some of them went so far as to accuse the prosecutors of being too harsh.

At Incheon International Airport, agents from the National Intelligence Service and police troops decoyed reporters to the wrong exit. Prosecutors behaved as if they had no clue about Kim Hong-gul's return.

Senior administration officials may have acted out of their loyalty to President Kim, but they deceived the public. People expected Kim Hong-gul to feel remorse and apologize for his irregularities, which rocked the entire country and provoked the ire of many common people. If he had done so, people would have accepted somewhat the president's words of repentance and agony about his deviant son. But the sense of betrayal grew when Mr. Kim returned covertly and with a sense of privilege. People are also dubious about whether prosecutors can properly investigate his alleged corruption. Public trust in the Blue House has been damaged irreversibly. The prosecutors can regain people's confidence only if they carry out an impartial investigation without heeding the Blue House.
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