At worst conniving, at best imprudent
This response was posted on the Facebook page of Park Beom-kye, spokesman of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy, on July 30.
It was one of many comments on Park’s page after he stated at a National Assembly briefing that a police insider present at the identification of the corpse of Yoo Byung-eun was certain the body wasn’t Yoo’s.
Dozens of comments were posted on Park’s page, and while many supported his claim, others said he was being imprudent. Most people have a deep distrust of the government regarding the Sewol ferry investigation, but at the same time, they remain skeptical of Park’s claim. It was suspected that he was trying to use the rumor for political gain a day before the election.
Police and the National Forensic Service (NFS) refuted Park. While Park argued that the height of Yoo announced by the NFS was different from the height of the corpse, the official statement by police indicates that Yoo’s height, 159.2 centimeters (5 feet 2 inches tall), was estimated based on the length of the thighbone, and the discrepancy was due to the three missing neck bones in the corpse at the funeral hall in Suncheon. Police also stated that a DNA match between the corpse and eldest son, Yoo Dae-gyun, confirmed their paternal relationship.
NFS Director Seo Joong-seok said in a phone interview with the JoongAng Ilbo that Park should have requested verification by the agency instead of rejecting scientific evidence obtained by the NFS and counting on nonprofessional sources.
Park argued on his Facebook page that a member of the National Assembly who belonged to the Committee on Legislation and Judiciary and had served as a judge was also having reasonable doubts.
Of course, the opposition party needs to check, watch and criticize whether the government agencies are operating in a just manner. However, criticism should be based on facts, and rumors need to be verified.
His argument was based on a “recording of a police insider’s testimony to a reporter.” If there had been a media report, he should have verified whether the report was true and the testimony grounded in fact.
Precious lives have been lost and survivors are still suffering. Families of the victims are participating in a hunger strike in front of the National Assembly. Doubting the identity of a corpse hardly helps ease the pain of families and survivors.
* The author is a political and international news writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
JoongAng Ilbo, July 31, Page 29
BY LEE JI-SANG