Find the facts firstFormer Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl, a frontrunner in polls among presidential candidates of the opposition People Power Party (PPP), is under attack amid allegations that he ordered a senior prosecutor to package complaints against figures affiliated with the ruling Democratic Party (DP) to help the opposition while he was the head of the prosecution. The controversy has heated up after excerpts from a 20-page complaint report were disclosed.
The complaint is alleged to have been handed over to Rep. Kim Woong — who ran in the Apr. 15 parliamentary election last year as candidate for the United Future Party, now the PPP — by prosecutor Son Jun-sung, then chief of investigative information policy at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office and a loyalist to Yoon. Kim then allegedly relayed the complaint to a party member through the encrypted messaging app Telegram. He asked to delete the chat room upon confirming the material.
The criminal complaints were aimed at journalists and political figures affiliated with the DP — including Rhyu Si-min of the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation and Choe Kang-wook, head of the Open Democratic Party — for violating the public office election law. The details themselves are less debatable, as the person who had tipped off the collaboration between a Channel A reporter and a senior prosecutor is on trial whereas the Channel A reporter has been found innocent. But even if the complaints are rightful, the action cannot be pardoned when they had been proceeded unlawfully.
The ruling front also had been accused of wrongdoing for an undemocratic procedure to ban former Justice Minister Kim Hak-eui from leaving the country.
Former Prosecutor General Yoon would face a strong backlash if his key aide indeed had asked Rep. Kim, a former prosecutor, to arrange the complaint filing. The DP is lashing at the formidable contestant from the PPP for abusing his prosecutorial power to intervene in the election and defend his inner circles in the top law enforcement agency.
The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office has launched an inspection on the allegation. The prolonging in the argument could confuse voters. The impact on the presidential race could be huge if the case goes to the Anti-Corruption Agency for High-ranking Officials or a special prosecutor. Rep. Kim and prosecutor Son must speak frankly on the affair and the PPP must make its stand instead of leaving the affair in the hands of the prosecution. The DP also must focus on a quick fact-finding process rather than having a field day out of the affair.