Getting to the bottom of it

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Getting to the bottom of it

President Moon Jae-in has singled out three sex scandals — involving entertainers and influential people associated with media and law enforcement agencies — to be thoroughly investigated with the reputation of the police and prosecution on the line. He made the specific order to the ministers in charge to “show the administration’s will to punish the excesses and irregularities of a certain class in order to create a fair and just society,” the Blue House said.

Yet not many would approve of the president paying special attention and reference certain cases that are under review or have been closed. The president has previously drawn criticism from the opposition for giving specific guidelines to prosecutorial probe on certain cases.

Police are actively investigating the case involving Seungri, a former member of K-pop group Big Bang, and the claims about drug and sex crimes committed in the nightclub Burning Sun that he used to represent, as well as his connection with police.

The other two are cases involving former Deputy Justice Minister Kim Hak-eui for allegations about him receiving sex entertainment from a contractor in 2013, and the 2009 scandal triggered by the death of actress Jang Ja-yeon who left a suicide note claiming she had been forced by her former manager to have sex with influential figures in the media industry to win acting roles. The two cases have recently resurfaced upon suspicion of a slack prosecutorial probe and a testimony from a former colleague of Jang’s. Yet the legality of reopening the cases can be disputed due to statutes of limitations.

The presidential order had an immediate effect. The prosecution, which opposed reinvestigating the former cases, has endorsed a two-month extension. Former Deputy Justice Minister Kim’s case could affect Hwang Kyo-ahn, the head of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, who was Kim’s boss and justice minister at the time, and Rep. Kwak Sang-do who was the senior presidential secretary for civil affairs under former President Park Geun-hye. Meanwhile, Jang’s case could implicate the owners of leading conservative newspaper Chosun Ilbo.

The prosecution set up a committee to address past controversial cases after the launch of the liberal Moon administration to punish wrongdoings of the past. Yet the committee has only met once a month since its inauguration.

The purpose of reopening the cases should center on the problems in the prosecutorial investigations in the past. With special attention from the president, prosecutors are expected to do a more thorough job this time.

JoongAng Ilbo, March 19, Page 34
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