Collapse of justiceThe purge has finally taken place. A disciplinary panel of the Justice Ministry ordered a two-month suspension for Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl. With approval from President Moon Jae-in, the ministry now can entirely command control over ongoing investigations by the prosecution. The panel utterly ignored the law, order, customs and reasons to deliver a guilty verdict. Wishes for some conscience and pride were dashed. Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae, the ring leader who has devoted her whole year in the post to oust Yoon, her cheerleaders in the top law enforcement agency, and scholars and law practitioners who acted out her order in the disciplinary committee meeting will all go down in history as destroyers of democracy and the judiciary system.
The disciplinary action against Yoon is illegal and unjust. All the grounds the panelists found were totally irrelevant and ridiculous. He was charged of inspecting judges, but judges already said they found the act a customary process for prosecutors to get ready for trials. Yoon was also accused of violating the “political neutrality code” because he did not vow to not enter politics after retirement.
The panel was composed of unqualified figures. Lee Yong-gu, vice justice minister, was a lawyer who defended the government’s side against the prosecution’s investigation of the Wolseong-1 reactor. The professor who headed the panel serves on a board of the Justice Ministry’s subsidiary. Another scholar on the panel was involved in the screening of ruling party candidates in past elections. These people came to the conclusion that Yoon should be suspended. The chair wrapped up the hearing, without even giving a chance to hear self-defense from Yoon. The process was more like a show trial in a communist regime.
The forthcoming events are foreseeable. The investigation into the early shutdown of the Wolseong-1 unit will be scaled back. The cases of Lime Asset and Optimus Asset Managements that also involve government officials also could be affected. The long-delayed case on the Blue House’s intervention in the Ulsan mayoral election will likely be dismissed. Moon’s prosecution reforms could turn into prosecution taming.
The new agency with full authority on investigations of high-level officials can act to protect the government. Antigovernment forces like Yoon will be investigated instead. All this could have been scripted to kill the prosecution and empower the government.
The last hope to avert a judicial collapse is in the hands of the court now. We hope the court rectifies the wrong decision by the wrong panelists. The people are closely watching.