Letting divisions healControversial Justice Minister Cho Kuk stepped down on Monday, 35 days after his appointment and a day before the National Assembly’s regular audit of the ministry. In a swan song, Cho said that he did his best to bring reforms to the prosecution while in office.
In a Blue House meeting with senior aides, President Moon Jae-in apologized for “eventually causing much conflict in our society.” Expressing “deep regrets for all the pain,” however, he underscored that Cho’s determination to achieve prosecutorial reforms in the face of difficulties aroused “much sympathy from the public.” Despite an apology, Moon’s remarks mostly focused on the need for prosecution reforms without mentioning the inappropriateness of his appointment.
We fervently welcome Cho’s resignation. The whole country was divided between pro-Cho groups and anti-Cho groups. Despite the grave security situation on the Korean Peninsula, the Moon administration and ruling Democratic Party (DP) were engrossed in defending Cho in their crusade for reform. Despite a deepening economic slowdown, they were bent on safeguarding Cho, an icon of reform in the liberal camp. That’s not all. The legislature’s regular audit of the government began — and ended — with attacks and counterattacks on Cho. The government and DP must listen to opponents’ views and make efforts to assuage their disgruntlement.
The public gave a serious warning to the president and ruling party. In a YTN/Realmeter survey, the gap in public support for the DP and opposition Liberty Korea Party narrowed to 0.9 percentage points (35.3 percent versus 34.4 percent). Support for the DP has hit a record low in seven months after recording 36.6 percent in March. Moon’s support also dropped to 41.4 percent, the lowest since he took office in May 2017. The government has brought this on itself after turning a blind eye to public sentiment.
As seen in the Cho Kuk fiasco, the government cannot run the country based on its core support group alone. It is time to unite the nation. The ruling camp must listen to voices of opponents. Otherwise, it cannot put an end to the politics of division. Moon urged people to use all the energy they displayed on the streets for a better future of this country. “I will do it myself,” he said. We hope he keeps that promise.
The prosecution’s investigation of Cho’s family should not fizzle out after his resignation. The top law enforcement agency must not forget its duty to maintain justice and fairness in our society no matter what.
JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 15, Page 30
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