Never-ending justificationFormer Justice Minister Cho Kuk is rocking the political community once again with his vanity. He has recently released his autobiographical book “Cho Kuk’s Time” to “explain myself before it’s too late.” He claimed that former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl victimized him to bring the Moon Jae-in administration down. Cho argued the attack was similar to the offensive on former President Roh Moo-hyun and his aides while defining all the corruption around him and his family involving the creation of family exclusive private equity funds, the illegal enrollment of his children in a top university and illegalities committed by his family’s school foundation as “trivial moral mistakes.”
Cho goes on with self-justification. Critic Chin Jung-kwon pointed out, “The standards for truth and morality have collapsed to the level of blurring the boundaries between right and wrong.” Cho claims that he was made a scapegoat and victim. There was no self-reflection or remorse.
The fact is that his wife Chung Kyung-sim was found guilty of ten out of 14 charges and sentenced to four years in prison, and fines of 500 million won ($449,000) at her the first trial. All the allegations about her involvement in illegally enrolling her children were upheld by the court. Cho himself is on trial, facing 11 charges, including bribery and fabrication of documents.
Cho refused to appear as a witness over 300 times. Although he had been a scholar of criminal law and champion of trial-based justice, he practices self-reasoning out of the court. His book is part of such behavior. He had a lot to say in the 571-page book. But he kept mum on circumstances placing him in an unfavorable light. On the accusation of his wife fabricating award certificates for their daughter, he claimed the charge had been fabricated as a “coup” by Yoon’s prosecution. He did not mention the ruling front’s all-out defense campaign for him.
Cho Kuk’s time was full of destructive and conflict-stoking features. He caused social divide by letting his supporters and critics hold separate rallies in Gwanghwamun in downtown Seoul and outside the Seocho judiciary complex in southern Seoul and caused a retreat in Korean democracy. The majority of the people had already voiced their disapproval of him by casting votes against the ruling Democratic Party (DP) candidates in the April 7 mayoral by-elections in Seoul and Busan. The DP has not cut itself free from Cho or regretted its defense. Presidential aspirants still profess a respect for him despite the ebb of his supporters. Former Prime Ministers Lee and Chung talk of their “hearts aching” at the thought of him. Cho has left lasting harm.