Cowardly resignationProsecutor General Kim Joon-kyu has made a very irresponsible decision to resign from his post. In explaining why he is stepping down, he said: “If an agreement is broken or a promise is not kept, someone should take responsibility for it.”
As head of the prosecution, he might have felt sorry about the recent passage of a law aimed at weakening prosecutors’ investigative rights. And with only around 40 days left in his two-year term, as stipulated by a law enacted in 1988, his departure is not all that significant.
But Kim should understand that he has left an indelible stain on a prosecutor general’s right to serve the country as independently as possible and without political pressure within a guaranteed term.
He also chose the wrong path in the turf war with the police over investigative rights. The way he handled the situation only took into account his colleagues’ dissatisfaction and his decision to step down was selfish.
His behavior also goes against the will of the president, who appointed him as prosecutor general. President Lee Myung-bak is currently on a visit to Durban, South Africa, to support Pyeongchang’s third bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Before leaving the country, President Lee urged him not to resign. Regardless, Prosecutor General Kim pressed ahead with his plan to step down, saying, “I cannot afford to lose any more momentum.” In the absence of the president, it will be difficult for the government to replace him.
Kim’s decision was not a courageous one, either. There is a long list of prosecutor generals who have quit their jobs with time remaining in their terms.
Since taking office in 2009, Kim had to endure severe criticism, not only for the prosecution’s lukewarm investigations into bribery scandals involving prosecutors but also for ineffective investigations into the Prime Minister’s Office’s illegal inspection of civilians.
Still, we believed in his resolve to investigate government officials’ hideous lobbying for the bankrupt Busan Savings Bank Group. But the result of the prosecution’s investigation into the filthy practice appears to be headed nowhere.
Kim must receive a performance review after his tenure has ended. Citizens have demanded the prosecution undergo massive reform. The first step is appointing a prosecutor general who knows how to meet the challenge.