An independent prosecution

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An independent prosecution

President Lee Myung-bak yesterday appointed Kim Joon-gyu, former head of the Daejeon District Prosecutors’ Office, as the new prosecutor general.

It seems as though the Blue House has again rushed to tap another nominee for the post out of desperation, even though extensive scrutiny is needed after former appointee Chun Sung-gwan volunteered to step down amid allegations of corruption.

Currently, eight leading positions within the prosecution are empty, so obviously there’s a need to quickly get the ball rolling.

However, Korean citizens are stressing over the potential problems that could emerge from the new appointee, as the Blue House didn’t spend enough time verifying his qualifications.

It is understandable that the Blue House didn’t want to delay an appointment much longer. The prosecution needs a leader who can resuscitate the organization quickly, and the longer this drags on, the harder it will be to fix the problems.

Due to the controversy surrounding Chun, a number of Koreans have come to believe that all prosecutors in Korea have so-called “sponsors” that helped them. While the verification process for Chun was under way, a slew of allegations sprouted like mushrooms. Some legislators took issue with how he built his personal wealth, claiming that he had supporters helping him in questionable ways and alleging that he lied about an overseas golfing trip with a businessman.

The Blue House has described Kim as someone with solid leadership skills and the ability to stabilize the organization. So his top task will be helping the prosecution regain the vitality and authority it used to have.

The best shortcut to reach this goal is to help the prosecution gain independence from politics and power. Unless the prosecutor general is directly picked through an election, it is inevitable that the person in that post will be appointed - and therefore controlled - by the president, who is elected by Koreans. However, control by the president is valid only when it is aligned with the principles of the Constitution and isn’t influenced by a political party.

The prosecutor general should be given the right and the authority to move out from under the president’s shadow if need be. That way, the prosecution can regain the public’s confidence and live up to its original responsibility of establishing legal order.

Kim had retired at the beginning of the month after Chun Sung-gwan, his junior, was nominated for the post. Now that he is back, we hope that he will devote himself to the nation and to the public without any conflict of interest.

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