Rat traps and foxes

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Rat traps and foxes

Most will agree that rats are unlikable creatures. They spread disease and eat their way through grain stocks. Foxes may be unhappy to hear they are regarded similarly by humans, but they too are equally unpopular in both the eastern and the western sides of the globe.

Old tales from Korea and China tell of a nine-tailed fox that changed its form to deceive humans, and the English still hunt down foxes for sport, reflecting the human dislike of foxes. Some consider the mere appearance of a fox as bad luck, but to most the four-legged animal earned its bad reputation due to its cunning nature.

There is an old Chinese saying about foxes and rats. If a fox digs its way into a fortress, the structure, designed to protect from enemy attacks, will be ruined. A sharp-toothed rat would likewise wreak havoc on a wooden shrine. But driving the critters away isn’t so simple. If we start digging holes to catch a fox, a fortress wall could collapse. If we try to smoke out the rat, we might set the shrine on fire. We therefore have little choice but to leave the fox and rat where they are.

Allegations of dubious and mischievous fox-like and rat-like deeds committed by officials from the previous administration are making headlines these days. Allegations of corruption and irregularities ascribed to aides and relatives of former President Roh Moo-hyun contradict the former administration’s self-portrayed image of righteousness and honesty. With a string of aides and family members being interrogated, we wait to see how far the investigation will reach.

Prosecutors yesterday announced that they had barred Roh Geon-pyeong, former President Roh’s brother, from leaving Korea for his alleged involvement in the Sejong Securities scandal. A former Blue House staff member with the surname Lee, 33, who served under the Roh administration, is also being investigated for allegedly managing or laundering money used for bribery.

The scandal is growing bigger by the day as more people closely related to the previous administration are linked to alleged irregularities surrounding the sale of Sejong Securities, now known as NH Investment and Securities, to Nong-hyup in 2006.

Even a strong riverbank can fall from a tiny ant hole, and grand architectural structures can tumble from a small defect.

Prosecutors shouldn’t stop at congratulating themselves on bringing perpetrators of corruption under past administrations to justice. More efforts should be put into preventing new foxes and rats from entering. We need to mend our walls and place traps.

*The writer is a deputy international news editor of JoongAng Ilbo.

By Yoo Kwan-jong [kjyoo@joongang.co.kr]
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