[EDITORIALS]Life at the Jinju Hotel

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[EDITORIALS]Life at the Jinju Hotel

News reports about the luxurious prison life of a former boss of a criminal ring have sparked outrage. The people wonder who has been protecting Kim Tae-chon, the former head of Seobang-pa, an organized criminal ring. A prison guard of Jinju Prison, where Mr. Kim was serving his term, posted documents on the Internet from the Justice Ministry, ordering prison officials to help Mr. Kim.

Mr. Kim's life in prison raises a lot of suspicions. He was transferred from Cheongsong Prison to Jinju Prison last April for medical treatment. Many thought that Mr. Kim's transfer was arranged because of favors requested by a former lawmaker. In July, Mr. Kim was sent back to Cheongsong because a large sum of cash, cigarettes and a mobile phone were found in his cell.

Also debatable is that Mr. Kim's conduct rating was changed twice, ultimately raised to the highest possible while he was serving his term at Jinju. The speedy raises, which brought him additional privileges, are particularly disturbing. No matter how well Mr. Kim behaved himself, it is hardly possible that the conduct mark would go up by two levels in a little over a year. That does not happen with other inmates.

Because cash, cigarettes and a phone were confiscated from his cell, Mr. Kim must have been living a lawless but splendid life in prison. That would not be possible unless some prison officials turned a blind eye to such practices. The sudden raise of Mr. Kim's conduct mark in particular suggests that the entire prison management was involved in shielding Mr. Kim. With the good conduct mark, Mr. Kim was able to have unlimited prison visits.

The Ministry of Justice has already indicted one person and reported 10 others to its disciplinary committee. The prosecutors must investigate the prison official's claim that the special treatment was ordered by a senior official of the Corrections Bureau at the Justice Ministry. The guard complained that lower-level officials were made scapegoats. The prosecutors should also find out whether politicians were involved. It is urgent that the responsible people be called to account about the problems in prison administration. Measures must be taken to prevent similar incidents from recurring.
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