[FOUNTAIN]Briefer’s guide: say nothing

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[FOUNTAIN]Briefer’s guide: say nothing

Those listening to the briefing on the prosecutors’ investigation don’t have a second to rest their brains: The answers to all the questions are beyond ambiguous. From the prosecutors’ point of view, preserving the investigation is most important. They must avoid illegally announcing the subject of their investigation, and so find it difficult to talk frankly about their investigation. One must find real answers within irrelevant or metaphoric ones. The question and answer sessions are like games of 20 questions or a spearman attacking a shield-bearer. Each prosecutor in charge of the briefings has his own style of defense.
Ahn Gang-min, the senior prosecutor who during the Kim Young-sam administration was in charge of investigating the corruption charges against former President Roh Tae-woo, barely spoke during briefings. Lee Jung-soo, the chief prosecutor in that case, pretended not to know answers and was given the nickname “zipper.” Reporters had to describe the situation by writing, “...” (meaning no answer), “Just nodded his head,” or “blinked his eyes vacantly.” The chief prosecutor, Shim Jae-ryun, who played an important role in investigating the Kim Hyun-chul case, answered in metaphors, living up to his nickname of “crooked.” While wisely avoiding reporters’ questions, he would leave clues behind that were hard to notice.
Senior prosecutor Park Sun-yong, who conducted the investigation into former president Kim Dae-jung’s secret fund, answered all questions the same way: “The decision will be made after deliberate examination.” He was later called “deliberate Park” or “examination Park.” It was because they were sensitive about being criticized by the public that the prosecutors informed the mass media about the progress of investigations.
After the Kim Dae-jung administration took over, briefings became customary. The purpose was to protect the investigation, since news reports were always ahead of it. The chief prosecutor at the time, Lee Myung-jae, gave briefings by delivering the main points wrote down on yellow paper and held in his hand. Nevertheless, some of the briefers often lost public trust, since they frequently lied.
Recently, the prosecutor’s briefing on the investigation into Hyundai Motors’ secret funds are again drawing public attention. In her book “Lipstick on a Pig,” the former Pentagon spokeswoman Torie Clarke gave good advice for conducting briefings. She said pigs wearing lipstick are still pigs, meaning truth is the only correct answer in briefings. “Look at the moon, not the finger pointing at it,” the late monk Venerable Sungchul said.


by Park Jai-hyun

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

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