Probing a power struggle
It’s been 11 days since the investigation into an internal report on Chung Yoon-hoi, the personal secretary to President Park Geun-hye when she was a lawmaker, began. The team has been probing the scandal every day since. It is now focusing on two points: whether the report is true and how it was leaked.
Park met with Saenuri leaders and members of the Budget and Accounts Committee on Dec. 7 and said that the rumors are groundless. According to the attendees, President Park said, “The important things are that a report has leaked and its contents are not true.” Park described her inner circle, Lee Jae-man, Jeong Ho-seong and Ahn Bong-geun, as “staff members who have worked for me for 15 years since I was a member of the National Assembly.” They are the plaintiffs in the case.
When prosecutors investigate a case, those who are involved make various comments for their own advantage. But the prosecution always says, “That’s their side of the story.” This time, however, the prosecutors cannot completely ignore the claim, since it is the president who is making comments on the case.
When the president’s remark was reported on Dec. 7, a high-level prosecution executive said, “We don’t have anything to say about her words.” Promotion season is approaching. While promotions are usually announced in January, it is expected that a reshuffle will be postponed until the case is concluded.
This is the second time that the president has made comments on this case. At first, she focused on how the report leaked, rather than what’s in it. At a meeting with her senior secretaries on Dec. 1, she said that the leak was “an act breaching state affairs discipline.”
While the prosecutors have their own investigation plan, they are criticized for “faithfully following the president’s order.” Less than a week later, another comment has been made on the credibility of the report. It coincided with the point when the prosecutors’ investigation to verify the validity of the document was in full swing.
I do not doubt that prosecutors in Korea would cover up a scandal that is true. But an attorney said, “If the Blue House claims that the report is not true, and the investigation finds that it is not true, people would distrust the outcome and doubt whether the prosecutors investigated the case properly.” In fact, the opposition party argues that the president practically gave an investigation guideline.
The case is about a behind-the-scenes power struggle. Strictly speaking, it is a political issue that should be resolved by politicians. Investigating the scandal will only leave distrust and suspicion of prosecutors in the minds of the citizens.
The author is a national news reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo.
JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 9, Page 33
by CHOI HYEON-CHUL