A reckless remark

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A reckless remark

Hwang Kyo-ahn, the prime minister of impeached President Park Geun-hye who is running to lead the main Liberty Korea Party (LKP), has committed a foolhardy political attack to win favor with conservatives. He raised questions about the validity of the evidence found on the tablet PC of Park’s confidante Choi Soon-sil. This evidence acted as the smoking gun in impeaching the president and convicting both for power abuse. His comment drew criticism from all sides that the main opposition was turning to the extreme right and aggravating public distrust of politics.

Defenders of the former president had suggested that the evidence found on Choi’s tablet was fabricated, but prosecutors shot the possibility down after forensic studies. The courts found the files as valid evidence to issue guilty verdicts for Park and others.

Byeon Hee-jae, a conservative journalist, was sentenced to two years in prison for defaming JTBC after he accused the newsroom of falsifying the files on Choi’s tablet after one of its reporters seized it.

The court concluded that JTBC had no motive or reason to distort the content on the tablet, since questions about Choi had already been raised when it first reported on the shocking findings on Oct. 24, 2016.

JTBC had been transparent on how it secured the files and turned them over to the prosecution, the court said, rejecting the claim about fake content. The fact that Choi was on just two out of the 1,876 photo files on the tablet could raise suspicions about fabrication, but all files except 17 had been downloaded from the internet. Moreover, Choi was heard in a phone conversation after the report telling someone else to insist that the tablet had been stolen. Park’s aide testified at court that he had handed over 47 pieces of confidential material to Choi and confirmed that three on Choi’s tablet came from him.

Hwang, who served as a senior officer in the prosecution, as a justice minister and prime minister, should have known better than to bring up these rumors. He also is someone with the closest knowledge of the affair, having run state affairs on behalf of the impeached president.

The judiciary community is accusing Hwang of lying and discrediting the judiciary system because of his ambition to become head of the LKP. Spreading bogus news to win votes is a sin against history. The LKP angered many people after some of its members suggested that North Korea was involved in the May 18 Gwangju massacre. Hwang must apologize before he does more harm to the party.

JoongAng Sunday, Feb. 23, Page 30
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