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President Roh Criticizes Prosecutor-General Song for “Weakening National Discipline”

President Roh Criticizes Prosecutor-General Song for “Weakening National Discipline”

Posted June. 15, 2004 22:11,   


Commenting on Prosecutor-General Song Kwang-soo’s strong opposition to the dissolution of the central investigation department of his office, President Roh Moo-hyun directly criticized Song and said on June 15, “It is inappropriate for the head of a government organization to resort to extreme language in openly criticizing an issue directly related to his organizational interest.”

“Since the prime minister’s directives include an arbitration process aimed at addressing the differences in opinion between departments,” Roh said at a Cabinet meeting, “[Song’s] such opinion should be an issue that should be discussed and confirmed within the government, not one that should be directly appealed to the people.”

“When a government organization with enormous power makes such an appeal, it will make the people nervous,” Roh said, “It will be a move that will raise concerns over a weakening in the overall national discipline.”

“It should be remembered that the reason why there is a secure term of office for the prosecutor-general is for the sake of the prosecution’s investigative independence,” Roh continued. “The justice minister and other ministers should be extra cautious in improving organizational discipline at the prosecution and the Ministry of Justice.”

While the reason why Roh has brought up the prosecutor-general’s secure term and discipline is interpreted as a demand for Song to resign, a senior official at the presidential office said, “It was a warning, not a demand, for Song’s resignation.”

The prosecution is in shock at Roh’s remarks.

Song refrained himself from directly responded to Roh’s remarks and went about his daily business in his office on the 8th floor of the prosecution building. “I met with him at about 3 p.m.,” a senior prosecutor said, “He basically knows about Roh’s remarks, but he did not comment about them at all.”

Officials and staff members at the Prosecutor-General’s office hardly held their breath and their bafflement as they found out that President Roh used such extreme expression as a weakening in the national discipline against Song.

“Once I took a closer look at his remarks, I realized they were much scarier than a direct demand for Song’s resignation,” one official said. “It is likely that another prosecutor-general will once again step down before he serves out his term.”

“The situation can’t get any worse,” one prosecutor in the Seoul district prosecution said. “They should step back for each other and resolve the issue,” said a senior prosecutor in another local office.

Jung-Hun Kim jnghn@donga.com jin0619@donga.com