Justice stands on the side of truthThe resignation of the chief of prosecution and suspected involvement of the presidential office is generating one controversy after another and undermining public confidence in state authority.
Junior prosecutors immediately protested after Prosecutor-General Chae Dong-wook offered to step down following the announcement by Justice Minister Hwang Kyo-an that an independent prosecutor will investigate the affair. Prosecutors of the Seoul District branch argued the truth must be known before Chae’s resignation is accepted. Since local media reported the 54-year-old prosecution chief had a 10-year-old son from an extramarital affair, Chae vehemently denied the story and offered to take a DNA test. Chae, who spearheaded numerous high-profile cases, including the state intelligence agency’s involvement in orchestrating a smear campaign against the opposition rival candidate in last year’s presidential campaign, vowed to stay in office but succumbed after the justice minister announced an outside investigation. The Blue House said it will not accept Chae’s resignation until his case is fully investigated.
The main opposition Democratic Party publicly suspected the Blue House’s involvement, saying a prosecution chief could not be ousted without endorsement from the president. Yoon Sang-hyun, deputy floor leader of the ruling Saenuri Party, said an outside inspector has been ordered to conduct the investigation because the prosecution refused.
The truth must be known as the case no longer is limited to Chae’s private affair. If not, suspicion, power struggles and distrust among public offices would likely intensify and hurt overall public confidence in state authority. Chae has the first key. He should comply with the Justice Ministry-led investigation or take a DNA test to prove his veracity. The prosecution and social conflict won’t be able to stabilize until the public knows who is lying and why.
Chae is not fit to lead the law enforcement agency if he has lied. If not, the newspaper organization that first reported the story must take full responsibility for defaming his name by publishing a false report. Chae already has already said he is willing to take a paternity test and asked the newspaper to print a correction. In addition, the National Assembly must hold a public hearing to question the minister and prosecutor-general.
Suspicions that the presidential office and Justice Ministry got involved also must be addressed. The opposition suspects the Blue House and Hwang collaborated in order to protect and cover up misdeeds of the National Intelligence Service. If so, the act is a serious violation of state authority. The Blue House and Justice Ministry denied that they had any part in Chae’s offer to resign. This sequence of blame game and allegations is not what we need. What we ask is truth. Justice stands on the side of truth, not a particular political camp.