A suspicious non-indictmentProsecutors concluded no wrongdoing by Rep. Ko Min-jung, a former presidential spokeswoman and lawmaker of the ruling Democratic Party (DP), who had been accused of violating election law. The opposition accused her of having included a supportive comment from a residential representative in her campaign materials ahead of the April 15 parliamentary elections.
Community committee members are banned from publicly supporting a specific candidate. The Seoul Eastern District Prosecutors’ Office concluded that Ko committed no wrongdoing and only indicted the person responsible for the publication of the leaflets. The prosecution did not explain the grounds for its decision to not indict her, citing the prohibition on disclosure of criminal cases.
The same district office cleared Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae and others accused of exercising influence over the military to offer extra sick leave for her son during military service. In announcing the results, the prosecution explained the grounds for clearing Choo, her aide and son. But the office refused to elaborate on why it closed the case on Ko. Either it did not have strong ground for pardoning Ko or feared backlash for its unconvincing reasoning. If it was confident about its findings, it should have explained all the details even before the press asked for them.
Though the district office pardoned Ko, it indicted former Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon. Oh ran in the same district against Ko and was accused of giving away cash gifts to security guards and cleaners in his apartment complex during the Lunar New Year Holiday. The prosecution’s suspension of his indictment means it believes Oh is guilty, yet it decided to delay his indictment. Oh claimed that he had given them cash gifts every Lunar New Year. Although the act could be a breach of the election law, it cannot be severer than Koh’s fabrication of the leaflets.
Prosecutors cleared all the DP lawmakers accused of violating the election law. The prosecution’s bias toward the ruling party was expected, given the series of demotions of prosecutors who had investigated alleged corruption of figures close to the ruling party. People are asking if these are really the prosecutorial reforms Choo and the government envisioned.