[EDITORIALS]Going overboardIt seems that the opposition Grand National Party plans to introduce a bill demanding the resignation of the minister of government administration and home affairs, Kim Doo-kwan. The reason, the party says, is that he failed to prevent a U.S. base intrusion and demonstration on top of an armored vehicle there by a group of students belonging to a radical student group, Hanchongryun. But before making the final decision, the party must consider whether the incident is of a nature for which to ask the minister of home affairs to be responsible.
Of course, the incident created a big stir diplomatically and militarily between the United States and South Korea. Thanks to the moderate reaction of the U.S. soldiers, the incident did not develop into an accident as it could have if shots had been fired. The police should be held accountable for failing to collect information and take the necessary measures against the students, and for not reprimanding anyone within their ranks even after 10 days. The police should be held accountable for their lapses.
But demanding the resignation of the minister of home affairs is going too far. Legally, the home affairs minister has the right to recommend the promotions of police officers above the rank of senior superintendent, to establish a police personnel committee and to establish and implement major law and order policies. The above rights are not enough for the minster to have control over the police. He is not in a position to direct and supervise overall police affairs. The National Police Agency is an independent agency separate from the ministry. The police do not report to the minster on such routine matters as applications for rallies.
If the opposition party pushes the bill through, it will be blamed for using the incident for political purposes. It would be suspected of seeking reprisals for attacks on some local party offices or of trying to teach a lesson to other ministers. Even within the party, there is criticism of this overkill. Since a resignation recommendation is an extreme measure, it should not be used indiscriminately.