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The prosecution’s probe into allegations against the Environment Ministry for blacklisting officials for their allegiance to the former conservative government has picked up speed. It filed an arrest warrant for former Minister Kim Eun-kyung on charges of power abuse. The Blue House raised controversy after making a statement hinting at the possibility of trying to influence the court’s decision on issuing an arrest warrant for the former minister.

“We will watch for a court judgment on the minister’s authority in appointments and inspection,” said Kim Eui-kyeom, President Moon Jae-in’s spokesman, earlier this week. The press officer added that he expected a more “balanced” decision compared to cases during past governments. It is rare for the presidential office to issue a statement on a certain court warrant case.

Former Minister Kim is accused of having ordered a list of names of executives in organizations affiliated with the Environment Ministry, who worked in former conservative administrations, and of instructing her staff to force their resignations. The vacancies were filled by new figures named by the new liberal administration.

The Blue House is also at the heart of the allegations. It is contradicting itself to force the court to make a “balanced” judgment. The power abuse charges against senior judges during the former President Park Geun-hye administration also involved a muted or implied pressure from the Blue House to drive out judges. The latest case in question has put the court in an awkward position as both a refusal or warrant could now become controversial.

The prosecution must focus on what role the Blue House played in replacing the executives in ministerial arms. It plans to summon officials from the Blue House this week. The prosecution should investigate the truth without any intervention by the Blue House. The prosecution can no longer afford criticisms that its actions are swayed by the power in action.

The former presidential chief of staff and culture minister under the Park administration were found guilty for blacklisting anti-government figures in the culture community. The same guideline should be applied to the blacklisting by the Environment Ministry. If a different yardstick exists in a different ruling power, nothing has changed since Park’s impeachment. There cannot be political consideration.

JoongAng Ilbo, March 25, Page 34

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