Who wants to end up like Choo?
The author is a columnist of the JoongAng Ilbo.
One hopeful improvement at the end of 2020 compared with a year ago is the upset in the ruling front’s attempt to pardon — and undo — the offenses committed by those in power under the pretext of prosecution reforms. There is an old saying “Point at a deer and call it a horse.” The proverb is used to describe a reality which is being distorted through deliberate misrepresentation.
The mental virus has been highly contagious at the ruling camp. Under its influence, a cover-up of crimes is referred to as prosecution reforms. The virus has finally been contained through court rulings in December. Hope is raised for the restoration of justice. We salute the judges who restored Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl to his office and issued a guilty sentence to the wife of former Justice Minister Cho Kuk. The judges just did their role — calling a “deer” as it is. But still, their rulings sounded refreshing at a time when it had been unclear what is right and wrong.
A coronavirus could one day be tamed through vaccination. But it is not easy to fight the mental virus — the spread of falsehood. Under the infatuation, people praise the naked king for his great wardrobe. Elites are protected and pardoned regardless of their crimes. Law and order is no longer guided by common sense. It has been overtaken by thieves who stole justice. Prosecutors who went after the powerful were removed one after another under the name of reform. Only the obedient survived.
Under such contamination, a democracy, where a governing power can change through the judgment of the people via election, cannot work. The governing power may have dreamed they were close to achieving their goal when they railroaded many bills through the National Assembly to revise the Election Law and enact the establishment of a new investigation authority to overrule the prosecution and free Cho and his wife.
But the mission failed at the last minute due to a suicidal over-devotion by Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae. Nothing in excess is good. As Choo drove too recklessly on her path of reform, the engine broke down. The judiciary played its role to the book even when the administration wielded its might power buoyed by a supermajority in the legislature. Truth has prevailed.
Choo was blinded from the beginning and found prosecution reforms synonymous with ousting the upright top prosecutor. Taking the helm of the Justice Ministry early this year, she was engrossed with purging Yoon, who symbolized someone who had stood up to the sitting power. Choo went so far as to make up stories and validate testimonies of a criminal behind bars to frame Yoon.
If Choo had not behaved so recklessly and instead abided by procedure, her campaign on prosecution reforms could not have utterly lost public confidence. She may have been too eager to please the president for an ambition to become the prime minister or Seoul mayor or even bid for next presidency. But she now finds herself in the pitiful state of an abandoned dog. She cannot blame anyone but herself for going overboard.
As Moon’s approval rating has sunken to the 30-percent range, Yoon has emerged as the most favorite candidate for the next presidency from the opposition camp. In the meantime, the ruling party has lost its centrist voters. Its chance of winning the two mayoral by-elections in April is turning dimmer.
Choo’s arrogance has brought down the ruling front. Moon will have to have to name Choo’s successor. But few would step forward to take the position unless the president stops his campaign to oust Yoon.