(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on April 19)
Ending the shady deals
Former President Park Geun-hye on Monday was referred to the court on 18 criminal charges. The same day, presidential candidates officially embarked on campaigns to win the May 9 vote for the 19th president. The indictment would place the corrupt former president, who has brought enragement and a sense of betrayal and despair to the people, on trial for her misdeeds to hopefully end the tradition of a former president facing criminal charges and punishment.
The bribery charge will decide her conviction. On top of 43.3 billion won ($37.9 million) she allegedly received from Samsung Group, the prosecution added 7 billion won from Lotte Group and 8.9 billion won from SK Group to make the bribe total 59.2 billion won. The prosecution included not only exchanged money, but also the sum she demanded and was promised from business leaders.
The charge could set a legal precedent for future shady deals between politicians in power and large companies. The corporate sector must end their ties with the political power instead of making excuses.
The power abuse scandal that has dominated the social and political scene since September has ended with Park’s indictment. Much of the corrupt deals have been exposed and the people behind them were prosecuted. But a probe into Woo Byung-woo, former senior presidential secretary for civil affairs, still remains questionable, tainting the overall prosecution on the historical case.
Park has become the third president after Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo to face trials for corruption and bribery. The court must not only judge her on the 18 charges, but dig into unanswered questions such as her whereabouts during the first seven hours of the sinking of the Sewol ferry. Park must faithfully cooperate with court proceedings so that the trial can uncover the truth.