[EDITORIALS]Follow the lawThe Blue House designated Chung Sang-myoung, the incumbent deputy prosecutor-general, as the successor of Kim Jong-bin, the former prosecutor general. Mr. Chung now shoulders the responsibility to manage the prosecutors’ office, which is hurt and disturbed by the furor over the justice minister’s directive. Mr. Chung must also restore the political independence of the prosecution.
The Blue House says it selected Mr. Chung for his ability to “reform” the prosecution. “We expect that Mr. Chung will successfully deal with pending issues such as reform of the prosecutors’ office, in harmony with the justice ministry,” explained a spokesman. Of course, reform of the prosecutors’ office must be pursued constantly. However, the problem is that this so-called reform is to be based on “awareness of the times.” Under the name of reform, when the law turns into a mere scrap of paper or when figures of a specific political character elude the application of the law, it is a problem.
Since the recent furor, key figures of this government have been speaking of the “awareness of the times.” The senior presidential secretary for civic affairs said, “The standard by which the prosecution works should follow the values and awareness of the times that our contemporary society pursues.” A few days ago, Justice Minister Chun Jung-bae said that the new prosecutor-general should be a “person who can lead the changes, well aware of the flow of the times.” It is right to point out that the law needs to reflect the flow of the times. However, it is vague what this awareness of the times means. No matter how important the awareness of the times might be, it cannot skip over the law. The vague phrase “awareness of the times” must not weaken governance according to the law. The prosecutors need stricter execution of the law more than they need better awareness of the times.
The nominee for the succeeding prosecutor-general post, Mr. Chung, closely observed his predecessor Kim amid the furor over the justice minister’s directive. Mr. Chung must know better than anyone else why Mr. Kim decided to resign. As Mr. Kim said in his retirement speech, he was concerned about damage to the prosecutors’ political neutrality. If the justice minister’s directive gives momentum to the political influence in the workings of the prosecution, then prosecutors will be degraded and subordinate to political power. The new prosecutor-general must keep in mind that his number one responsibility is to maintain political independence.
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