[EDITORIALS]Eating his wordsIn October 1996, Justice Minister Chun Jung-bae, then an opposition lawmaker, joined in a revision bill to reform the prosecution that would prohibit the justice minister from intervening in the prosecutors’ investigation in a case before them. Also in the same year, Mr. Chun pointed out during the National Assembly’s inspection of the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office the problems in Article 8 of the Public Prosecutors’ Office Act that stipulated that the justice minister could exercise the command and supervision of the prosecutor general in specific cases, and demanded that the minister’s right to command the prosecution be strictly regulated.
In 2001, Mr. Chun introduced the petition of a civic group, People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, to the National Assembly. It called for banning the justice minister from intervening in the prosecution’s investigation of individual cases.
This would be enough to imagine how firm Mr. Chun’s conviction was at the time: He wanted to end the justice minister’s right to give direct orders to prosecutors.
What Mr. Chun now as the justice minister showed in action is a contradiction. Mr. Chun gave a direct order to the prosecutor general to investigate the case of Kang Jeong-koo, who is charged with National Security Law violations, without physical detention. That led to the resignation of the prosecutor general and an intense political confrontation between the ruling and the main opposition party.
When he was an opposition party lawmaker, Mr. Chun claimed that the minister’s right to command the prosecution should be abolished, but now he’s in power, he’s the justice minister, and he became the first justice minister to exercise that right. How can we understand this?
Mr. Chun says that it was his conviction as a first-term lawmaker to think that the abolition of the right was correct. Then, there should be an explanation why such a conviction has been changed.
But he is saying nothing about the reasons. Then does he mean something like “When others do it, it’s adultery, but when I do it, it’s a romance?” How can we trust a person who uses such strikingly different logic from when he was in the opposition once he has taken power?
How can such a person advance justice in the position of justice minister? Mr. Chun must first give a convincing explanation about his change in attitude. If not, he must be responsible for his self-contradicting act.