An uncharted pathFormer chief of the Seoul High Prosecutors’ Office Park Young-soo has been appointed by President Park Geun-hye as independent counsel to investigate the unprecedented abuse of power scandal involving the president and her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil. Lawyer Park is known to have been maintaining close relationships with his former colleagues — both junior and senior prosecutors in the prosecution — probably thanks to the unique tradition of the special investigation team he long served. Park also has good relations with Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, former Senior Presidential Secretary for Civil Affairs Woo Byung-woo and Deputy Chief of the National Intelligence Service Choi Yoon-soo.
Due to such a background, there are growing concerns about whether Park can thoroughly probe the case. The main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea said that it was worried about the possibility of an off-track investigation particularly given Park’s past working relationship with current Senior Presidential Secretary for Civil Affairs Choi Jai-kyeong.
Special prosecutor Park, who served as a secretary for inspection under the liberal Kim Dae-jung administration, was recommended by Park Jie-won, chairman of the emergency committee of the splinter opposition People’s Party and former chief of staff in the administration.
That’s why he is under some suspicion about his ability to get to the bottom of the case — even before he kicks off investigations. As if he was aware of such concerns, Park underscored that he would do his best without confining the scope of investigation or considering the ranks of suspects involved.
People want to trust those words. They believe that he would not betray their hopes and turn away from a historic mission to investigate the president, her former chief of staff Kim Ki-choon and former Senior Presidential Secretary for Civil Affairs Woo Byun-woo. President Park pledged that she would sincerely cooperate with the independent counsel once it launched its full-fledged investigation, including complying with an in-person questioning session.
The special counsel must clear any doubts lingering over Civil Affairs Secretary Woo and his subordinates’ involvement in the scandal.
Independent counsel Park must cut any personal connections with his former colleagues. A 65-member special investigation team under his jurisdiction will have to navigate tough terrain from now on. He must not forget that our nation’s future hinges on the uncharted path he has been placed on.
JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 1, Page 38