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‘Nasty rat’

Posted November. 09, 2017 07:48,   

Updated November. 09, 2017 08:37


It was April 22, 2009, when the political scandal involving Park Yeon-cha, an entrepreneur who was alleged to have given funds to former President Roh Moo-hyun, was underway by the then Central Investigation Bureau of the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office. A broadcasting company reported suspicions of circumstances in which Taekwang Group Chairman Park Yeon-cha gave two luxury Swiss-made watches as gifts to the former president and his wife. The watches, embedded with jewelry, cost 100 million won each. The next day, senior prosecutor Hong Man-pyo announced that he would “trach down the nasty rat.” In other words, Hong had acknowledged that someone within prosecutors was leaking news. A rat is jargon that refers to an informer.

On May 13, 2009, some 10 days after former President Roh was summoned for investigation on April 30, another broadcasting company reported breaking news, following up initial reports related to the watch scandal. According to the news, when Roh was questioned about the gifts during the investigation, he replied that his wife had discarded them in rice paddy. The former president committed suicide 10 days later, and in an interview in February 2015, Lee In-kyu, the then head of the Central Investigation Bureau of the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office, stated, “The reports of the watch scandal were driven by the National Intelligence Service (NIS),” pointing to the spy agency as the “rat.”

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office recently launched investigations regarding the “luxury watches discarded into rice paddy,” as requested by the Corruption Eradication Task Force under the National Intelligence Service. This means that investigations of Lee, Hong, and senior prosecutor Woo Byung-woo will be inevitable. Investigations related to alleged bribery at the spy agency has eventually led to the probes on prosecutors. Hong is currently imprisoned on issues of receiving large commissions, while Woo is indicted on charges of conniving state scandals involving Choi Soon-sil as senior presidential secretary of civil affairs. Lee, who is currently residing in the United States, claimed on Wednesday at an e-mail that the news report had been instructed by former National Intelligence Service chief Won Sei-hoon.”

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office investigation of the National Intelligence Service’s involvement in posting online comments regarding politics is being internally criticized for its resemblance to the investigation back in 2009. Again, news that would have been impossible to access by outsiders are being leaked. To ensure legitimacy of the investigation as well as impartiality of press reports, it is crucial that prosecutors and the media resist temptation to leak information and respect confidentiality.