An irresponsible governmentThe five-day Chuseok holiday has begun. During the period, Korean people usually return to their hometowns and pay respects to their ancestors. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, they will surely talk with their families about what’s going on in our politics. Strangely, though, the way the government behaved shortly before the holiday is quite disappointing.
We can hardly understand the prosecution’s decision to not indict Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae over her pressuring the military to extend her son’s sick leave during his military service. Public rage about the prosecution’s decision is mounting. The Seoul Eastern District Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation of the case six months ago and this week announced a decision not to indict the justice minister. That was expected, yet we are amazed at the top law enforcement agency’s decision to exonerate Choo before the Chuseok holidays.
The evidence certainly points to abuse of power, as Choo gave one of her aides the phone number of an officer at the military base where her son served. That contrasts with what Choo said in the National Assembly. Yet the prosecution ignored public sentiment and let her off the hook.
The Moon Jae-in administration also showed an unfathomable reaction to the killing last week of a South Korean fisheries official by North Korean soldiers on the West Sea. The Korean Coast Guard has announced that the official must have attempted to defect to North Korea, saying he had 330 million won ($282,000) in debt.
We cannot understand why the government tries to react so mutely to an obvious outrage by North Korea and come close to blaming the victim for his own demise. The government should be ashamed that it could not protect the life of one of its citizens and that the president and military did nothing to save his life.
We have seen the prosecution’s investigations into a number of suspicious cases fizzle out, including allegations against Rep. Yoon Mee-hyang over her alleged embezzling of public donations, the alleged Blue House meddling in the Ulsan mayoral election, and the presidential office’s pressure to dismiss a former presidential aide’s corruption. Who would accept a series of arbitrary decisions by the prosecution?
The justice minister did not take responsibility for all her lies. Even though one of our people was shot to death by North Korean soldiers, no one in the government is held accountable. If the government really believes it can weather the crises in such a way, it is mistaken. It must not turn a deaf ear to public outrage. Otherwise, it will be judged by the people in next election.