A matter of trust
The author is a columnist at the JoongAng Ilbo.
The Moon Jae-in administration’s biggest crime is that it has completely destroyed the trust that this country has accumulated over decades. Ruling party members are not reversing their recent remarks by presenting dubious opinion polls and manipulated online comments.
When Yoon Seok-youl took office as prosecutor general, they praised him for “having been trusted by the people as a man of strong principle who had never conceded to power and never suppressed outside pressures.” Now, they are cursing him as a “crazy wolf” by accusing him of conducting a political investigation.
Investigating a suspected criminal in the Blue House or the National Assembly is the job of the prosecution. There is no problem with the prosecutors conducting a probe in Yeouido, western Seoul, where the National Assembly is, or in Hyoja-dong, central Seoul, where the Blue House is located. A prosecutor goes where a criminal suspicion is.
The Moon administration investigated two former presidents, one former Supreme Court chief justice and countless conglomerate leaders and made them stand trial. The greatest accomplishment of the administration was its brutal justice against those “accumulated evils.”
Just because the prosecution included a former senior secretary of Moon in the accumulated evils probe, which used to target the members of the previous administrations and opposition parties, the ruling party members completely changed their words and actions. That is why we are questioning their trustworthiness.
Dozens of reporters from The Hankyoreh newspaper, who made a series of reports that contributed to the launch of the Moon administration, issued a statement that they are embarrassed about their own newspaper. “A column critical of Cho Kuk was unilaterally deleted. The newspaper is silent about suspicions surrounding Cho. We were often called a mouthpiece of the Democratic Party after the Moon administration was launched,” the statement said.
The reporters are talking about the true duty of the press, which must be independent from power. It also shows that the administration has gone too far to defend Cho.
Moon appointed Yoon as new prosecutor general. With a bright smile, Moon told Yoon only 45 days ago that “You must show stern attitudes toward the living power, whether it is the Blue House, the government or the ruling party.”
If Moon denies the prosecution’s probe into Cho, the newly-appointed justice minister, just because he is a political ally, can we ever find honesty? Isn’t it a discrepancy between words and actions because the prosecution was faithfully following the president’s order?
The discrepancy between words and actions by the president is seen as the discrepancy between words and actions by the state. The destroyed trust in the state will inevitably lower the country’s prestige.
Moon may argue that Cho is the best person to reform the prosecution so the public must understand the situation, although he may have some flaws. But everyone, except for those who are blinded by a delusion that “Cho’s fall is Moon’s fall,” knows the truth. Reforming the prosecution is done by the National Assembly’s new legislations.
The judiciary can also carry out an important reform by controlling the excessiveness of the prosecution’s power through judgement. In contrast to the legislature and the judiciary’s power, the justice minister can only carry out reforms of the prosecution in some administrative areas.
Even if the administration reforms the prosecution, how can Cho, who became the justice minister after losing public trust and facing criminal charges, perform the duty properly?
If Moon’s planned reform of the prosecution, to be carried out by Cho, is to abuse the appointment rights of the prosecutors and exercise the state’s right to punish the people as the administration pleases, the people will face fear and the country’s trust system will be completely destroyed.
No matter how precious Cho is, he is not as precious as the people’s trust in the president and the assets of trust this country has accumulated. It is unfortunate for Cho, but Moon must make a bold decision to restore the country from this mental civil war. No one will abandon Moon for abandoning Cho. They will actually feel relieved and support his courageous and painful decision. We don’t want the tragedy of previous presidents to be repeated.
JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 9, Page 30