Respect the rulingDemocratic Party (DP) floor leader Hong Young-pyo lashed out about “systematic resistance from old evils affected by former Chief Justice Yang Seung-tae in the judiciary” after a judge on Wednesday found South Gyeongsang Gov. Kim Kyoung-soo — a confidante of President Moon Jae-in — guilty for colluding with online bloggers to manipulate public opinion during the 2017 presidential election and June 2018 local elections.
Immediately after Kim’s conviction and jailing, the DP set up a committee to root out “past evils” in courts. After assuming committee chairmanship, Rep. Park Ju-min pledged to achieve judiciary reform by holding remaining corrupt judges accountable for their power abuses during the conservative Park Geun-hye administration. Some DP lawmakers even cited the need to impeach Judge Seong Chang-ho, who handed down the guilty verdict on Gov. Kim. We are dumbfounded at the way the ruling party is behaving.
The biggest reason for the ruling party to attack Judge Seong is his work as secretary to former Chief Justice Yang, who is currently under detention on charges of power abuse. But that does not make sense. Judicial secretaries working in the secretariat of a chief justice are not engaged in general activities to serve their boss: instead, they review and study cases that call for a unanimous agreement in the Supreme Court. He was investigated by the prosecution over his potential involvement in power abuse by the judiciary under Chief Justice Yang. But no evidence was found.
Judge Seong even issued arrest warrants for such defendants as former President Park Geun-hye’s chief of staff, Kim Ki-choon. In a trial of Park’s alleged taking of money for special activities and intervention in nominations for legislative elections, the judge sentenced her to eight years in jail. At the time, the ruling party praised his ruling as a “victory of judicial justice.” Stigmatizing any judges as “past evils” just because their rulings are not satisfying constitutes a brazen challenge to the integrity and independence of the judiciary.
Criticism of rulings should be based on evidence. Seong’s ruling was founded on clear evidence that Gov. Kim colluded with a powerful political blogger to manipulate public opinion during elections. Kim cannot claim he was not aware of the function of an online opinion-rigging program.
The ruling party must stop its campaign against our judges. Incumbent Chief Justice Kim Myeong-su must strictly warn any politicians attempting to shake the foundations of our democracy.
JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 1, Page 26