[FOUNTAIN]A proper public spirit

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[FOUNTAIN]A proper public spirit

One day in October 2002 in the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office in Seocho-dong, Seoul, then Prosecutor-General Lee Myung-jae received an unusual report. The report said, “the prosecutors’ spirits are leaking out.” An iron wicket next to the main gate and a parking lot gateway on the opposite side were pointed out as the “leakage holes” and blamed as the cause of frequent bad incidents, such as the Lee Yong-ho scandal. The prosecutors closed the gateway and blocked the wicket with a flower garden. Some suggested that the closed west gate be reopened. The old prosecutor’s office building in Seosomun had something to do with this suggestion. Looking from the center of Seoul, the Seosomun building is located in the west, which is strong in the metal disposition of the Five Elements ― metal, wood, water, fire and earth ― which stands for strict and hard. Seocho-dong, where the present prosecutor’s office sits, used to be a hangout of bandits, and a lot of innocent people were attacked and killed there in the past. It is necessary to encourage spirits from the west to appease those vindictive spirits still haunting the prosecutors. However, some others opposed the idea as based on traditional folk beliefs, and only a part of the west gate was opened.
The Supreme Prosecutor’s Office also got rid of a Haechi figure that had stood in the lobby. The Haechi is an imaginary unicorn-lion that can judge between right and wrong. But it was said that the horn of the Haechi unicorn kept pricking the prosecutor’s office. At last it was replaced by a statue of a woman playing a string instrument. There was much criticism of the prosecutors’ superstition, but it was evidence of how desperate and struggling the prosecutors’ office was.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office is still looking for a way to keep the prosecutors’ spirits because it thinks prosecutors are falling to become mere wage-earners.
However, it must not make the mistake of protecting the prosecutors with nothing but spirits. Protecting prosecutors who look down on suspects and conduct irrational investigations because they are eager for fame is just nursing a potential fire. Laozi of ancient China said, “The best virtue is like running water.”’ Everything in the world must be natural like the flow of water. When prosecutors behave like prosecutors, they can be in good spirits. No good spirits will come from the shady thoughts of looking only at the people who hold power. Recently, the Public Prosecutor’s Office announced an easier civil application service to become partners with the people. The public can feel warmth from the prosecutors’ effort to be real public servants.


by Park Jai-hyun

The writer is a deputy city news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.

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