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[Editorial] Privileged Roh Moo-hyun’s People and Unprivileged Civil Servants

[Editorial] Privileged Roh Moo-hyun’s People and Unprivileged Civil Servants

Posted June. 17, 2005 03:25,   


The Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) asked Public Prosecutor’s Office to investigate on Haengdam Island Development Scandal recently, but it excluded figures related to Cheong Wa Dae such as Moon Jeong-in (former chairman of the Presidential Committee on Northeast Asian Cooperation Initiative), Jeong Chan-yong (former presidential senior secretary for personnel affairs), and Jeong Tae-in (former presidential secretary for national economy).

The BAI accused Oh Jeom-rok, former President of Korea Highway Corporation (KHC), and Kim Jae-bok, President of Haengdam Island Development Co., of being involved in this scandal and asked that investigations be conducted on both men. However, the BAI didn’t accuse those related to Cheong Wa Dae, claiming, “Even though there are some clues that they are involved in unfair activities, they did not participate in the crime directly.” According to materials released by the BAI, the KHC rejected to give consent to issuing bond of Haengdam Island Development Co. However, Moon and Jeong “directly” arbitrated this conflict and put pressure on KHC. In particular, Moon actively supported Haengdam Island Development Co., and his son was even hired in this company.

Regarding the exemption of these three figures from charge, the BAI said, “Since they already resigned from their positions, we couldn’t ask them for their criminal responsibilities related to their positions.” It is wrong, however, to say that since they resigned, they can avoid criminal responsibility. In fact, the BAI’s role is not to judge criminal matters, but to ask the prosecutors’ office to investigate responsibilities. It is the prosecutors’ office that judges criminal responsibilities. Moreover, the BAI concluded that the development project was just the work of former senior secretary Jeong, which will make it face a hard time in supervising subordinate agencies.

Workers of banks and security corporations who were in charge of helping Korea Postal Service Headquarters and the Korea Teachers Credit Union (KTCU) buy 83 million dollars worth of bonds that Haengdam Island Company had issued in the U.S. will be also summoned for the investigation. Without revealing who worked behind the scenes, the BAI is only harsh on those who played a visible role in the scandal.

In the Russia oil field development scandal, while other involved civil servants were arrested, Lawmaker Lee Kwang-jae was not. Wang young-yong, former chief of project development headquarters in Korea Railroad even said at a court, “I am standing here to protect Lee.”

It seems that the Haengdam Island scandal echoes the Russia oil field development scandal in just investigating visible perpetrators, not those involved in illegal activities behind the scenes. Given this official prejudice, it is unsurprising that people have come to see Cheong Wa Dae people as privileged high-ranking officials (called Jingol) and civil servants as lowest level of officials (called Japgol).