[INSIGHT]Charges reflect nation in turmoil

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[INSIGHT]Charges reflect nation in turmoil

It is pitiful to see all the political scandals popping up. An enormous loan of 400 billion won ($359 million using the exchange rate at the time) was extended by a state-run bank without even a signature of the lender, and not one person is willing to search for the truth. The military, whose duty is to defend the nation and protect people's lives, is one big dysfunctional family, superiors and subordinates blaming one another.

Allegations have been made that the Millennium Democratic Party's presidential primary, heralded as a democratic revolution, was a farce. Investigations into the alleged draft-dodging by the son of the Grand National Party candidate, Lee Hoi-chang, dragged on for more than two months without progress. Can we say that Korea is being properly managed?

The administration's proposal to conduct a special morale-boosting session for public servants to regulate information leaks and political partisanship is a joke. If it is preferential treatment they want to talk about, what more flagrant examples are there than the head of the National Intelligence Service, who gave money to the president's son, and the chief prosecutor, who leaked investigation information to a close aide of the president?

If it is slack discipline they want to talk about, what is more regrettable and of greater concern than a state-run bank that extends a loan of 400 billion won to chaebols or a military in which superiors and subordinates are blaming one another? The public's relief that a respectable nominee was found for the post of prime minister has quickly turned into disappointment.

There are those who worry that the various allegations being made in political circles these days are irresponsible, leveled without evidence and merely to spark political contention. I beg to differ. Without these disclosures, would we even have suspected that there were such problems? Because of a disclosure, we now know that 400 billion won was lent in a questionable manner and that there are loopholes in our financial system that need to be fixed. Although not proving that the money went to North Korea, the disclosure has helped the nation.

The same goes for the allegations that the military ignored reports of a possible provocation from North Korea just before the naval clash in the Yellow Sea in June. It let the people know that the military is one big mess. We saw that the organization and leadership of the military was in a precarious state and we even saw classified information that should not have been revealed.

Unit 5679 of agents trained to infiltrate North Korea should never have existed, and it was the government's responsibility to make sure that its existence did not surface. Yet, the clear testimony at the National Assembly questioning of a general and the violent protest rallies of those claiming to be former trainees of Unit 5679 make one seriously doubt whether the government did what it could to maintain secrecy. The public also has the right to know whether the Millennium Democratic Party's primary was a hoax. The more the discloser discloses, the closer we get to setting up a correct election and political culture. Whether the draft-dodging allegations were a conspiracy or not remains to be seen.

Without these disclosures, the people would still be ignorant of what really goes on in the government. Considering all that has been revealed so far, there might be even more secrets. The public has the right to know what is important. The disclosures so far have revealed only the boundaries of several suspicions; the whole truth has yet to come out. This is because the government is refusing to answer the questions spawned by the disclosures. For example, the truth of its declaration that not a single dollar was given to North Korea aside, the government is still refusing to either answer or investigate allegations of the 400 billion won loan. It is not taking any measures to fix the loopholes in the loan system. It claims that there never were reports ignored by the military and remains silent on the problems of its organization and leadership.

Does the government not want the people to know? If that is so, the government will find out that it just might not have its way. Who would have thought that a former vice minister and bank president and a major general would make such disclosures? If the government does not tell, there are plenty of others who are willing to. Who is to say that is all bad?


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The writer is a senior editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Song Chin-hyok

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