We need clear terms to curtail corruption

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We need clear terms to curtail corruption


Nine years ago on March 9, President Roh Moo-hyun hosted an open meeting with prosecutors that quickly turned tense when Kim Young-jong, a prosecutor with a special investigation team of the Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office, pressed Roh on a recent scandal.

Kim, now the head of the high-tech crime investigations bureau at the Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office, claimed that the president had called the chief of the Dongbu branch of the Busan District Prosecutors’ Office on April 11, 2002, and asked him to cover up a bribery case. He asked Roh, “Don’t you think you undermined the prosecution’s neutrality?” Roh responded, testily, “Now, you’re being reckless.” He went on to explain that he wasn’t asking for a favor. The person involved in the case felt wrongfully accused, and he wanted to make sure that the prosecution heard the man’s side of the story.

I was reminded of President Roh’s answer and hardened face when news of the new scandal involving former Saenuri Party lawmaker Na Kyung-won and her husband, Judge Kim Jae-ho. Na dropped out of the upcoming April legislative elections yesterday after suspicions that a prosecutor received a request to indict a netizen who had defamed her from Na’s husband - a Seoul court judge - turned out to be true.

When Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon was the director of the Hope Institute, the foundation published the book “Immortal Holy Family” by Kim Du-sik. The title is taken from “The Holy Family” by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, and refers to the members of powerful agencies such as the court or the prosecution. Within the “holy family,” many requests that do not involve money or pressure are often considered “genuine” acts. And politicians generally receive countless requests and appeals. However, outside of the “holy family” are the average citizens, 85.8 percent of whom do not have a single legal professional among family or friends. Former President Roh was also a member of the “holy family.”

The Na Kyung-won case has already created a stir, and it will hopefully contribute to society in a constructive way. For example, it has drawn attention to a long-standing need to define and classify a list of terms that have been used interchangeably and ambiguously. Let’s clarify the meaning of an appeal, a plea, an explanation, a proposal, a recommendation, a demand, a request, a lobbying effort, a solicitation, a persuasion, a pressure, a threat and a bribe.

*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Noh Jae-hyun

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