[EDITORIALS]Chun’s remarks improperJustice Minister Chun Jung-bae has severely criticized those who wrote columns disapproving of President Roh Moo-hyun. He was not hesitant to use strong and abusive language in getting his message across. Despite the fact that the comments were made at an off-the-record gathering, they definitely crossed the line.
The writers that Mr. Chun were critical of have not been named, but it is generally accepted that they are those with the JoongAng, Chosun and Dong-a Ilbos, which have been critical of the current government from its beginning. The main problem here is Mr. Chun’s recognition of the press as the nation’s current justice minister. By his comments regarding those who wrote columns critical of the government, and who would have been taken into custody in the past, Mr. Chun reveals his hatred towards the press, expressing that he would prefer to lock up critical writers instead of having to put up with them. For one who was so opposed to detaining outspoken professor Kang Jeong-koo, how could he now take such a different position to those not in his favor? The minister’s comments that he wants to tell newspaper owners to fire the critical writers is a good example of his distorted view of the press. The current government has continuously criticized the three major newspapers in Korea and now it wants to urge the owners to get rid of certain writers. We would like to question if the press is a personal tool of media owners.
Even more troubling is his suspicion that graduates of Seoul National University are failing to acknowledge the president because he only managed to graduate from a commercial high school. This is indeed a distorted view as the criticism of President Roh is not a result of his lack of higher education. The criticism is only a result of the press doing its job. Why bring up issues regarding academic cliques?
There are certain of Mr. Chun’s words that are worth listening to. He was quoted as saying he could not understand why the government is getting involved in rewriting Korea’s past when it should be sorted out in the academic sector. Regarding the wiretapping scandal, he expressed his regret that we cannot brush aside the past and focus on the future. Mr. Chun also said that he thinks appointing one outside director to a private school is enough. Considering these decent comments, it is hard to understand why he also made such violent remarks. It was certainly an improper act for someone with a major post in government.