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[Opinion] Lawsuits Are Going Too Far

Posted December. 28, 2005 03:19,   


The late Bang Soon-won, a former Supreme Court justice, once said that a trial was similar to a sports game. It is hard to forecast the victory or defeat, and they both draw the interest of the spectators up to the last moment.

In particular, trials have much in common with sports when both sides are equally matched in the lawsuit and there are many puzzling legal issues regarding the case. The result is not known until the “judgment’s” last victory or defeat is announced. Both even resemble one another in that the fairness of a judge is the key to the matter.

Such trials are easily “dragged about” in politics as political wars have expanded their stage to trials. The “provisional disposition” of suspending the official duties of the opposition party leader was pulled off through the works of the Yushin regime. Members of the opposition party were stirred up to hold trials in order to bring down the rightfully elected leader. This is a political scheme in the name of a “trial.” When it was found out in 1999 that the National Intelligence Service (NIS) had been wiretapping, the NIS brought charges against the opposition party’s floor leader for revealing secrets and libel. The opposition party filed a complaint back to the head of NIS on the Telecommunications Security Protection Act. If one side lodges a complaint, then the other side fires back by lodging one, too.

The political war, which spreads into the courtroom, ends in a fade-out along with the changes in the political environment. In the first state, everyone is in roaring spirits, whether he or she is falsely accused or “guilty.” Just as Bang Soon-won said, when each person argues with a plausible claim, there is no way to find out where the “tangible truth” stands. Then, when public opinion repeatedly starts to make harsh criticisms, everything ends by making withdrawals of the suits as if nothing had ever happened. After all, it seems “making a commotion” and “making unreasonable insists” to settle the public opinion is what political circles aims for.

There are too many “trial politics” and “fussy lawsuits.” The “libel” disputes between the ruling and opposition parties or interested parties have gone too far. The former investigators of the presidential truth commission on suspicious deaths instituted a lawsuit to the head of conservative organizations who made a statement that “this is a world where no one stops a person who has a previous spy record from investigating the army commander” on the charges of libel but lost the case. The judge ruled that “the presidential truth commission is subjected to supervision and criticism, and even if there may be somewhat exaggerated, inappropriate and harsh expressions, the majority conforms to the objective facts.” Too much is as bad as too little for the world. The fewer the number of lawsuits, the more benefits to the individual and the country there are.

Kim Chung-sik, Editorial Writer, skim@donga.com