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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Dec. 7)

2017/12/07 07:06

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Moving forward

Prosecutor general Moon Moo-il in a press conference said the prosecution will wind down the clampdown on so-called past evils -- the misdemeanors of previous governments -- within the year and focus on non-political investigations from next year. We have repeatedly called for speedy and accurate investigations into past wrongdoings for a fresh beginning for society.

Moon said most of the investigations -- including looking into the orchestrated smear campaign against opposition candidates in the 2012 presidential election, state-funding of conservative rightist groups, and blacklisting of anti-government figures in the entertainment and cultural fields -- have been achieved.

Since the new liberal government was formed in May, the prosecution probed 21 cases reported by government offices and confirmed illegal political meddling in 13 cases. Former National Intelligence Service (NIS) chief Won Sei-hoon was arrested for orchestrating online campaigns favorable for conservative candidates under the Lee Myung-bak government and two NIS heads Nam Jae-joon and Lee Byung-kee for donating the spy agency's special-account funds to President Park Geun-hye.

State meddling in elections and spying on civilians committed by past governments cannot be forgiven. But the investigation started off on the wrong foot as it was initiated by the order from the new liberal president to expose and punish the wrongdoings of the past two conservative administrations. The prosecution resources were entirely focused on the campaign with a dizzying scope of random arrest warrants. A former prosecutor and a lawyer even committed suicide during questioning.

The crackdown that kicked off with the NIS reporting the 30 individuals outsourced by the spy agency to carry out negative internet postings on opposition figures in August dragged on for four months. The prosecutor general admitted that the entire prosecution office is engaged in investigations on past wrongdoings.

The new liberal government, born through the act of civilian constitutional power to remove a corrupt government, understandably wants to bring out all the dirt to become free of the past. But a lot could be lost due to overindulgence. The prosecutor general says it will be too wasteful to hang onto the issue too long. We hope the prosecution will do as it says and finish up investigations in order to put society back on a forward-looking path.

(END)

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