&#91EDITORIALS&#93Party time for the secretary

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&#91EDITORIALS&#93Party time for the secretary

As we learn more about the scandal involving a night’s entertainment for Yang Gil-seung, the president’s personal secretary, we grow more disgusted. It was enough of an irritation to learn that Mr. Yang enjoyed a drinking party with a serious criminal suspect during travel outside Seoul in June. Now we see video footage recording him with a barmaid. That teaser was enough to suggest possible shady dealing between a powerful official and an organized criminal. We wonder if the Blue House, despite all this, will be able to speak of reform and govern this nation.
The situation has reached this lamentable state because there was no proper mechanism of self-cleansing for senior officials and presidential aides. After the Roh Moo-hyun administration was launched, a series of allegations opened up one after another involving figures close to President Roh. Mr. Yang’s case was probed a month ago, but the Blue House did nothing, instead hiding it.
The Blue House failed in its initial investigation. Now it must ask the prosecution formally to look into the incident. Prosecutors must determine whether Mr. Yang received the night’s entertainment in return for any favors sought, and if there was any threat to take advantage of some personal weak point of Mr. Yang. The prosecution must find out who made the secret videotape of Mr. Yang’s partying and for what purpose, and why the video clip was provided to a TV network. If someone is preying on a weakness of a close aide of the president and threatening him, that is a matter risking the nation’s security. Even if criminals instigated this incident in a power struggle, the root cause should be eradicated and the government must find ways to prevent similar incidents in the future.
The Blue House must accept the resignation of Mr. Yang to allow the prosecution to investigate without political pressures. What has been disclosed so far is reason enough to disqualify him for close service to the president. The Blue House also must check whether others may be vulnerable to someone preying on personal weaknesses. The Blue House must learn a lesson from this incident and reinforce monitoring of its officials.
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