New start for state prosecutor
The new prosecutor general, Kim Su-nam, vowed to make the state prosecutor office upright to better serve the people. Kim, in his inaugural speech, emphasized strict, fair and consistent law enforcement, humble service, reform-minded practice and cleanness in public service. We just hope he proves to be more successful in his promises than his predecessors. Every prosecutor general made big promises at the beginning, but not many walked out gracefully. Of 17 prosecutors general since 1998, only seven fully filled their two-year tenure.
Kim also enters office during turbulent times. He won’t be free from political temptations with a parliamentary election in April and a presidential election the following year. He must do his utmost to sustain autonomy of the institution and restore public confidence in the prosecution. The native from Daegu - the same hometown of President Park Geun-hye and stronghold of the ruling Saenuri Party - was involved in high-profile cases of investigating Lee Seok-ki, a lawmaker of the United Progressive Party, for allegedly plotting a rebellion against the Seoul government in August 2013 as the chief of the Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office. He also dealt with the controversial leak of confidential documents from the presidential office while he was head of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office. He was grilled on his political propensity by the main opposition during his confirmation hearing. Any politics-related case could provoke suspicion of his siding with the government.
His predecessor, Kim Jin-tae, did not receive high scores from within after failing to maintain neutrality. Kim may feel indebted to the president for handpicking him. But his loyalty should be with the people, not the president. Kim could help to restore the dignity of the state prosecution if he stands on the side of the people. Evaluation of the prosecution’s achievements is up to the people, not the president. JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 3, Page 34