[EDITORIALS]Digging up past may get dirtyIt was revealed that Our Open Party Chairman Shin Ki-nam’s father worked as a military police officer for the Japanese Army during the Japanese occupation of Korea. According to news reports, Mr. Shin’s father even hunted down Koreans who dodged Japan’s military draft.
Details of what Mr. Shin’s father did will emerge later. What is the most controversial issue now is Mr. Shin’s lying. Mr. Shin had claimed previously that the collaboration charge was “false and defamation.”
When the collaboration accusations were first raised, Mr. Shin said through his aide, “My father was a teacher before the liberation of Korea and he became a police officer in 1946.” But now that the news reports have revealed that his father was a military police officer during the occupation, Mr. Shin is saying, “I had denied the collaboration charge because my father was not a police officer during the occupation. Also, I thought I would have a chance sometime later to talk about his serving in the Japanese army.”
We do not understand Mr. Shin’s explanation. We believe that as the leader of the governing party, he should apologize rather than making clumsy excuses. We, of course, are opposed to the guilt-by-association system. Whatever Mr. Shin’s father did in the past, his son is not responsible for it. Also, the current project by Mr. Shin and his party to identify colonial-era collaborators is a separate issue from the case of Mr. Shin’s father.
Whether Mr. Shin can lead the project is up to the party to decide. Still, he should explain his lying.
The current case serves as a valuable lesson: It shows how difficult and complicated it is to dig up the past. The Japanese occupation, national division and the Korean war are historical facts that many citizens have experienced. This means that once the investigation into the past begins, some unexpected accusations may come from nowhere, and many people will be in Mr. Shin’s position.
We think the nation should minimize the negative side effects and power struggles that will occur if the investigation takes place. We also have warned against the possibility that the findings may be politically exploited. This is why experts, not politicians, have to take the initiative on this issue. Only by doing so will we realize the initial goal of the investigation, which is to find out the truth of the past and advance to the future.