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[Opinion] Lee Kwang-jae and Park Joo-sun

Posted December. 17, 2005 10:36,   


Uri Party Rep. Lee Kwang-jae, who is also known as President Roh Moo-hyun’s “right arm,” has been “saved” once again. He was investigated for receiving 600 million won worth of bonds from Samsung during the 2002 presidential election, but managed to avoid prosecution because the three-year statute of limitations of the Law on Political Funds expired.

The prosecution had delayed the summoning of Lee even though investigation had taken place before the three years were over.

Few politicians have visited prosecutors and independent counsels this many times and have survived like Lee. He has been summoned by investigators five times already in his career. During the Sun and Moon case in 2003, it was revealed that he had received 100 million won in bribes, but he was cleared after being fined 30 million won. In 2004, when he was charged with violating election laws, Lee narrowly escaped having his election voided by being fined only 800,000 won. During the oil scandal this May he escaped indictment when the investigation was stopped on grounds that Huh Moon-suk, one of the main figures in the case, had fled the country.

The tumultuous story of former Representative Park Joo-sun, who has the unique title, “arrested three times, declared innocent three times,” is in stark contrast with Lee’s story. Park has been accused of scandal involvement three times; for the clothes lobby scandal in 1999, the Nara Banking Corporation case in 2003, and the Hyundai scandal in 2004. In court, however, he was declared innocent all three times. This is enough to indicate that the prosecution may have been overzealous in their investigations. Park said, “99.99 percent of prosecutors work hard for the nation, but certain opportunistic prosecutors act under political pressure.” Park spent 15 months in confinement for the three cases combined. What then would Park think of Lee, who has managed to evade the law every time?

The tolerance and grace bestowed by the prosecution seems very inconsistent. If the “past power” and the “living power” differ in this way, should we just accept this as one of the “facts of life?” Nevertheless, as former Representative Park Joo-sun has been pulled down like this, we can see that power is fleeting. Everybody realizes the evanescence of “faded power” one day. If that day comes for Rep. Lee Kwang-jae, who knows how prosecutors will change their attitude toward him.

Song Young-eon, Editorial Writer, youngeon@donga.com