Reconciliation? HardlyThe Truth and Reconciliation Com-mission yesterday released a list of 492 judges who convicted violators of emergency decrees issued in the 1970s by Park Chung Hee, Korea’s strongman president who took power in a 1961 military coup. The emergency decrees were special measures based on a Constitution amended by Mr. Park, and they banned all kinds of rallies and discussions having to do with the amendment, which was largely used to keep Mr. Park in power.
There should be no objections if a government commission tries to restore the honor of those convicted by that evil law, but what the government commission did by revealing the names of judges betrays the name of the commission. It in no way helps bring about “truth and reconciliation.”
The names of presiding judges are always open to the public in any trial. However, what the national commission did was take the trouble of collecting a list of the judges who were involved in the rulings for the emergency decrees. The national commission was trying to stigmatize and disgrace the judges. The commission urges the judges to make rulings not according to the law but by following their “individual conscience(s) and convictions.” However, to do this discredits the principle of legal stability.
There was also a problem with the behavior of the national commission before making the list public. Even before it was given to the president, it was leaked to a certain newspaper.
It remains a question whether a commission member leaked the list with the intent of quieting the controversy or whether this person was trying to stir the pot. The commission shoulders the responsibility of explaining the decision to make the list public. The commission claimed that nine out of 15 commission members participated in a meeting and made a unilateral decision to make the list available. However, the commission did not release the names of the commission members who called for the release of the judges’ names. This is simply self-contradiction. They are trying to hide in the shade of anonymity while laying bare the names of the judges.
The commission should not try to divide society. It should try its best to give light to the truth, yet should remain true to the public’s hope to seek direction for the future and reconciliation.
Unless this happens, the commission will only be a tool used for political gain by a certain political force.