A last missionPresident Moon Jae-in’s approval on Wednesday of a two-month suspension of Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl as recommended by a disciplinary committee has made a few things clear. First of all, Moon revealed himself to be the orchestrator of Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae’s purge of the top prosecutor. The president took an ambiguous stance during the yearlong standoff between the two. But after Yoon was ousted, albeit for only two months, Moon expressed “special thanks” to Choo for “faithfully carrying out a mission entrusted by the call of the times,” while heartily endorsing the disciplinary committee’s decision to punish Yoon.
In reaction, Yoon filed a complaint with an administrative court to stop his suspension from duty. The move heralds an unprecedented confrontation between the top prosecutor and the president. The ruling Democratic Party (DP) has come up with the idea of letting both Choo and Yoon go, but Yoon reportedly does not want to resign voluntarily.
Conspiracy theories about the government’s apparent attempt to neutralize the prosecution through Yoon’s purge are in full bloom. Many predictions have come true. Pundits had forecast that the disciplinary committee would suspend Yoon instead of firing him after a court put the brakes on the justice minister’s unusual order to suspend the top prosecutor. A glimmer of hope erupted after Moon underscored the importance of “procedural legitimacy.” But the disciplinary meeting only ended as scripted from the very beginning, as a suspension that is the equivalent of a dismissal.
What attracts our attention is the second half of the scenario. While Yoon is away, the government could drag its feet on the Wolseong-1 reactor data manipulation scandal and the Lime and Optimus fund scams involving the DP and hand them over to the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials (CIO), which will be launched early next year, to cover up all dirt clinging stubbornly to the powers that be. Some pundits even expect Yoon to be the first target for investigation by the special law enforcement agency.
To prevent such a meticulously choreographed cover-up, the prosecution must get to the bottom of all suspicions swirling around our powers that be, including the nuclear reactor data fabrication scandal and the fund scandal.
The only entity the prosecution can rely on is the people. Prosecutors must dig up all cases involving corruption and abuse of power by the government to prove its real raison d’être. Much is at stake.