Cutting out connections
Prosecutor General Kim Joon-gyu declared on Friday that he will delete information about the provinces of origin and alma maters of prosecutors from the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office’s database.
He also unveiled his plans to request the removal of their personal information from Korea’s largest overall database - called the General Survey on Korean Legal Figures - and other private information posted online.
Kim admitted that personnel management decisions have been swayed in the past by regional and academic relations, and he reconfirmed his intent to get back to the basics in this area by prioritizing capabilities based on personality, personal traits and values.
His reform measures deserve our support, at least for the moment. The prosecution has suffered from a distorted organizational culture that is deeply intertwined with regional and academic connections. Even the people see this, as they have urged the newly appointed prosecutor general to conduct a comprehensive overhaul of the organization.
Sure, the removal of personal information from a database will not guarantee that a deep-rooted practice is abolished. However, it is our sincere belief that the move will amount to a refreshing breeze blowing through the prosecution.
Nevertheless, we cannot help but feel a bit of anxiety.
Giving priority to piecemeal or transitory events is apt to cause irreversible damage to the organization’s trustworthiness. The most important part of reform should be to eradicate prosecutors’ authoritarian behavior. However, you cannot reach this goal by simply removing old sofas from an office.
Rather, the first step should be to reflect on the office’s investigation practices, where prosecutors attempt to gain political power and play politics using the media.
The reform should focus on exploring ways to end such misconduct. Without taking this step, any removal of personal information may be viewed as an act to cover the public’s eyes and ears by concealing reality.
As Kim promised, the prosecutor general should play a key role in all of this without being influenced by outside parties. He must help ensure that personnel appointments revolve around people’s capabilities and sincerity, not their regional and academic capabilities. If this doesn’t happen, all of the prosecutor’s promises will amount to nothing more than empty talk. If the prosecution succeeds in establishing a new organizational culture and shedding its old customs, it will trickle down to the entire society. It is our firm hope that this comes true soon.