[EDITORIALS]Situation could escalateThe Blue House decided yesterday to accept Prosecutor General Kim Jong-bin’s resignation. In announcing the acceptance, Blue House officials added that Mr. Kim’s resignation was an inappropriate action that will not help reinforce the prosecution’s independence, as Mr. Kim has claimed. The Blue House, at the same time, rejected calls for Justice Minister Chun Jung-bae to resign alongside Mr. Kim, as a feud between the two was the direct reason for Mr. Kim calling it quits. It is the Blue House’s position that Mr. Kim’s accusation that the justice minister’s intervention in a prosecutors’ investigation violated the prosecution’s rightful independence was highly inappropriate.
However, despite the Blue House announcement, the storm is far from waning. The prosecution has already voiced discontent over the Blue House’s judgment and politicians are also displeased. Despite the party leadership’s call to keep it quiet, some members of the Grand National Party have proposed the party call for Mr. Chun’s resignation in the National Assembly. The governing party, on its part, shows no sign of backing down. This situation could escalate to a clash between the political circle and prosecutors and open up old wounds of ideological dispute over our national identity.
It is highly regretful the whole nation seems to be in an uproar over this incident. While the prosecution should tone down their objection, the politicans should also try to solve the problem, not aggravate it for their partisan purposes. In particular, some of the comments made by certain government party members attacking the prosecution are out of line. They have censured the prosecution’s objections as “typical collective selfishness against a justice minister who was appointed from outside the prosecution” and threatened to use this opportunity to discipline and tame the prosecution. Some have called this a chance to “reform” the prosecution. Do they mean that reforming the prosecution means bringing them in line with the government’s ideological code? Such comments are dangerous. Considering the Roh Moo-hyun government prides itself in having reinforced the prosecution’s neutrality, these comments are in complete opposition to that claim. The prosecution is trying in its own way to uphold its independence and Mr. Kim’s resignation could be seen as one such effort.
It is time to regain our calm and to untie the knots of discord. We must start with reviewing whether Mr. Chun’s intervention was indeed appropriate. No matter whether the law allows for intervention, the true purpose was to secure the independence of the prosecution. If the justice minister was to implement the system in accordance to its true purpose, he should have told the prosecution not to heed the fact some people have started to defend Kang Jeong-koo. However, what Mr. Chun ordered was the complete opposite. Therefore, he is partly to be blamed for this situation. If the Blue House insists on blaming only the prosecutor general, it will encourage the public misunderstanding that it is indeed trying to tame the prosecution.