[EDITORIALS]The president is in a pickle

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[EDITORIALS]The president is in a pickle

President Kim Dae-jung has returned from his visit to Europe to a domestic political mess. His summit diplomacy produced many results, including $10.4 billion in trade and investments. Korea and the European Union have agreed to hold summit talks every other year; and President Kim was the first head of state from Asia to speak before the European Parliament.

During President Kim's 11-day stay in Europe, however, several events in law enforcement and human rights left us dumbfounded, shocked and furious. Lee Moo-young, a former police chief, and Kim Seung-il, a former head of the anti-communist operation at the National Intelligence Service, were arrested on charges of impeding the investigation into the death of Susie Kim, whose death in Hong Kong in 1987 was cast as a murder committed by North Korean agents. Also, the impeachment of Prosecutor General Shin Seung-nam was thwarted by the ruling Millennium Democratic Party, resulting in political mudslinging. A former employee of the intelligence agency asserted that Tsche Chong-kil, a dissident and Seoul National University professor, was not killed in an accident but murdered by interrogators. This was followed by a suspicion that Vice Justice Minister Shin Kwang-ok is involved in "Chin Seung-hyun-gate," a bribery scandal.

The government's authority is in such a state of crisis that it cannot afford to put off cleaning up the suspicions. The government must clear up the suspicion that the vice justice minister took 100 million won ($78,492) from a venture capitalist accused of obtaining illegal loans and stock-price manipulations last year when the minister was serving as the senior secretary to the president for civil affairs. No matter how heavy the political burden, bold and fair investigations will be needed for Kim Dae-jung's administration to save even a little of its self-declared "clean government" image and restore the authority of its law enforcement agencies.

Behind the fabrication of the murder of Susie Kim and the suspicious death of Mr. Tsche are the dark shadows of the military dictatorships of the past. President Kim, who was praised as "the defender of the global values of human rights and peace" when he spoke before the EU assembly, must do his best to get at the truth about those cases and apologize, on behalf of the country, to the victims or their families.

More than anything else, the president must correct the wrongdoing at the nation's intelligence and investigation agencies.

President Kim cannot handle the chaotic state of affairs toward the end of his tenure with these disgraced and untrustworthy law enforcement agencies. The nation's chief executive must display a strong determination to straighten up the agencies of state power.
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