Do they know what fairness is?President Moon Jae-in is famous for making aloof remarks, but this time he has gone far. In an event celebrating the first anniversary of Youth Day in the Blue House on Saturday, he mentioned his cherished word “fairness” 37 times, accentuating the need to let the people feel the results of his administration’s push to “embody the value across all areas including employment, education, military duty and culture.” In regard to corruption related to military service, the president underscored the government’s recognition of the “young generation’s high demand for fairness” and its obligation to “meet the call of the times.”
However, Moon did not say anything about controversial Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae or her suspected involvement in granting favors for her son during his military service in 2017. Even if allegations against the minister do not outright constitute a violation of the law — such as draft dodging — the special treatment her son allegedly received deserves criticism. Moon kept silent.
The president, a former lawyer, has continued to base his judgment of fairness on whether a certain act is illegal or not. During the devastating Cho Kuk scandal last year, for instance, he pressed ahead with his appointment as justice minister despite tangible evidence of corruption and immorality. Moon went so far as to embrace Cho at a press conference, expressing the “gratitude he owed to Cho.”
Unfortunately, the same double standards applied to Rep. Yoon Mee-hyang, who has been indicted on charges of embezzling public donations when she led a civic group aimed at helping former Japanese military sex slaves. While ordinary citizens found fault with the wrongdoing of government officials and politicians, the president and ruling party have protected their allies.
Fairness and justice are bigger than just legality. Given the high moral standards required of top government officials, the logic that they have no problem as they did not commit crimes does not make sense. The minister of justice, in particular, carries great significance as she is literally in charge of justice.
And yet, Moon appointed Cho and Choo as justice ministers consecutively despite a plethora of allegations against them. The responsibility for such misjudgment falls directly on Moon. Who would trust his vow to let fairness take root in our society? No wonder his approval rating plunged among the young since the Choo scandal broke.
Moon’s flowery rhetoric on fairness only deepens their disappointment and frustration. He has long championed a crusade against the establishment enjoying privileges. The government and ruling party need to do some deep soul searching.