Let Kim tell the truthThe resignation offered on Friday by Kim Young-han, senior presidential secretary for civil affairs, after he defied a legislative summons over a scandal involving the leak of a confidential Blue House report was accepted by the president the following day. The Blue House explained that Kim could only be “removed” from office instead of being dismissed as a disciplinary measure because of the significance of his post. Kim Ki-choon, the chief of staff, told lawmakers that he would suggest sacking Kim for disobeying a parliamentary order. The ruling party said the removal was appropriate considering the consequences of his actions. The opposition said the move underscores the need for a special investigation into the leak of the report on influence-peddling activities among former and incumbent aides of the president.
Whether a senior presidential staff member is removed or dismissed from office is not important to the people. But they wonder why Kim, a former prosecutor who should know the importance of loyalty in an organization, publicly defied his immediate supervisor, the president, and the legislature, which could cost him and the administration greatly. The actions of the law practitioner only raise suspicions that Kim might break his oath to tell the truth if he faces questioning. Kim, who was put in charge of the civil affairs office at the Blue House in June after the internal report drawn up by the office was leaked, would know the events surrounding it best. He led a special internal affairs probe and cooperated with the prosecution’s investigation into the case.
Kim could have decided not to comply with the National Assembly request out of his own judgment. But he also may have wanted to avoid the risk of making a slip of the tongue during questioning. If he lies under oath, he could be prosecuted if his answers do not coincide with the findings of a special probe.
Nonetheless, Kim must not be let off that easily. He must be brought to the witness stand and forced to tell the truth. His case must be set as precedent that senior officials cannot escape accountability under the name of being political scapegoats. If this affair disappears after the dismissal of Kim, our law and democracy could be seriously impaired.
JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 12, Page 34