Smells like a cover-up10 days have passed since the suspicious death of Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon. But an effort to uncover the truth behind his suicide over alleged sexual harassment of one of his secretaries has lost steam despite the obvious repercussions of the case. The confusion is compounded by more pain felt by the alleged victim. The law enforcement authorities must get to the bottom of the case by kicking off a thorough investigation to help ease the deepening pain of the victim.
However, despite the existence of a victim, all parties involved — the city, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, the police, the prosecution, the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and the Blue House — are reluctant to tackle the challenge except for their apparent collaboration to divide our society into “friends and foes.” Since the offender is dead now, the primary responsibility for the investigation falls on the Seoul city government, as it is suspected of having covered up its boss’s misbehavior over the last four years. Park’s special aide on gender issues tried to act on his behalf — and a senior official at the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family even attempted to delay the victim’s press conference.
Seoul city officials went so far as to pressure the victim to “not to join hands with women’s right groups” after his death. On top of that, the city tried to set up a joint committee consisting of city officials and civilians to probe into the case even though the committee does not have binding force. The law enforcement agency is under suspicion that it leaked information on the victim’s accusations to the mayor.
That’s not all. A court has rejected the police’s request for a warrant to seize records for the mayor’s three mobile phones. The police turned out to have asked for a seizure warrant without specifying the need to find who leaked the complaint. What judge would issue a warrant when the police only cited the need to find the cause of death when all evidence points to suicide? Such an act by the police constitutes dereliction of duty.
The prosecution has now assigned the case involving alleged leaks of official secrets by the police, the Blue House and the city to the criminal department of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, currently led by senior prosecutor Lee Seong-yun, who is in sharp conflict with Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl. Despite his campaign promise to become a “feminist president” to achieve gender equality in our society, President Moon did not mention women’s rights at all in his speech to the 21st National Assembly. His approval rating is plummeting among women in their 30s. He must order a thorough investigation before it is too late.