The president’s confession“President Park, step down!” people cried in Seoul’s Cheonggye Square last weekend. As the prosecutors and the Blue House clashed over a search for evidence in the Choi Soon-sil scandal, reporters were busy breaking news. Is the prosecution, which has been helpless all along over the Choi-Park Geun-hye connection, righteous all of a sudden? If so, the prosecutor general should at least admit having being politically influenced in the past and declare he will sincerely work for the nation from now on.
“I committed a sin that deserves death,” said Choi, weeping, as she entered the prosecutors’ office on Monday. They arrested Choi as quickly as possible. Once she is in custody, the public outrage will calm down. The next targets of investigation are former presidential secretaries Jeong Ho-seong and Ahn Chong-bum. Jeong allegedly leaked Blue House documents, including presidential speeches, a violation of the Presidential Records Act. Ahn, the senior secretary for policy coordination, reportedly initiated raising funds for the Mi-R and K-Sports Foundations.
Prosecutors will be faced with an unprecedented dilemma: how should they write about the president in Choi’s indictment? The prosecutors cannot back down because the president has already admitted her involvement in the unprecedented scandal.
At a meeting with her senior secretaries on October 20, Park said, “I communicated and discussed with conglomerates to reach a consensus on the creative economy and cultural prosperity. In February 2015, I asked businessmen to expand investment in culture and sports.” On October 25, she made an apology to the nation, saying, “After my presidential inauguration, I continued to listen to her [Choi’s] opinions on some issues for some time … I did so with an innocent intention.”
Park ended up admitting that she was the center of the abuse of power. What she said to appeal to her supporters is now dragging her into the abyss. A prosecutor-turned-attorney said, “The President made a confession in front of television cameras. She was abstract on the foundations, but who thinks her secretary for policy coordination, Ahn Chong-bum, was raising funds for Choi Soon-sil alone? Now that the president admitted her involvement, we need to pay attention to how the indictments on related suspects describe the president’s involvement.”
There are three options. First, the indictment may not mention Park and only mention “an investigation in progress.” Second, the indictment can state “in collusion with President Park Geun-hye” or “under the direction of President Park.” The third option would be something along these lines: “President Park’s indictment is suspended until February 25, 2018 as the president shall not be charged with a criminal offense during the tenure of office except for insurrection or treason.” No matter which option is chosen, either the president or the prosecutors are in danger.
Choi has returned to Korea and “gone to the guillotine,” as her attorney describes it. We remember her saying, “I got rewarded so handsomely for being faithful to President Park.” There is circumstantial evidence that Ahn attempted to bring around foundation staff with calls and text messages using a borrowed phone. It seems to have been a custom in the power circle to use phones and devices that can’t be traced back to individuals. Choi is claiming that the tablet PC used as key evidence by the prosecution is not hers.
Nevertheless, will the “keeping faith with Park” strategy succeed after the president has made a confession on television? U.S. President Richard Nixon stepped down because of his attempts to cover up the Watergate scandal. President Park must confess the complete truth.
If she ever worked for the nation, it is her final duty by the Constitution to speak the truth.
The politically influenced prosecutors, pro-Park politicians and establishment that made President Park and Choi’s illusions a reality must confess their sins as well. The weird events of the last four years wouldn’t have been possible if they hadn’t averted their eyes from the obvious abuse of power by apresident who does not consider the people “holders of national sovereignty.” It is ridiculous that they claim they did not know about Choi.
Only truth can revive Korea’s democracy. In order not to be blinded by the ill-fated politics, we need to conduct an autopsy on any unjust use of power. We shouldn’t feel uneasy. After all, it was not the president who has been defending this nation. Normal citizens who work hard day and night, faithfully pay taxes, and send their beloved children to serve in the military are the backbones of the nation.
JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 1, Page 30
*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.