Louder than wordsSenior prosecutor Jin Kyung-joon was indicted on Friday for taking bribes of more than 900 million won ($809,253). He became the first senior-level prosecutor to be arrested in the 68-year history of the institution. Woo Byung-woo, senior presidential secretary for civil affairs, is also under suspicion of similar corruption during his prosecution service. Hong Man-pyo, prosecutor-turned-lawyer, was indicted for tax evasion but is suspected of having pocketed millions of dollars by exploiting his former connections and influence to win cases.
Prosecutorial corruption is not restricted to the upper level. Prosecutors at various levels have been charged for receiving corporate sponsorship, sex entertainment, luxury cars and other forms of graft. Reforms were demanded every time, but state prosecutors who fill the halls of investigatory power were busy trying to hide the wrongdoing instead of imposing discipline.
The prosecution repeatedly lied about Jin and his connection to the corrupt Nexon co-founder, as well as how he amassed wealth through shares in the game company. Jin was arrested only after the media hounded him. The opposition camp is proposing to create a separate entity to investigate corruption by senior public officials because prosecutors do not do their jobs.
The prosecution promised to set up a reform committee and overhaul the organization and its culture. But we have heard this story every time a corruption scandal hits the news. The prosecution must prove that this time it says what it means and means what it says.
Otherwise, its power and role in society will be undermined and its authority will be folded into other public institutions.
JoongAng Ilbo, July 30, Page 26