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[Editorial] Prosecutor Promotions

Posted February. 03, 2006 03:04,   


Hwang Kyo-ahn, the second deputy director of the Seoul Central District Prosecutor’s Office, was recently excluded from the senior prosecutor promotion list, while his colleague from the national bar examination, Park Young-kwan, deputy director of the Gwangju District Prosecutor’s Office, was promoted.

Last year, Deputy Director Hwang called for the arrest of Professor Kang Jeong-gu by stating that Kang spoke against South Korean legitimacy. Deputy Director Park was deemed prejudiced during his investigations of the alleged draft-dodging scandal in 2002, when the presidential elections were in full swing. But while Hwang was excluded from the promotion list despite his “most likely to be promoted” tag within prosecution circles, Park was the one promoted.

On the current round of appointments, Justice Minister Chun Jung-bae stated, “Insufficient investigations of the past should be accounted for,” and carried out the demotion and transfer of Lee Jong-baek, head of the Seoul Central District Prosecutor’s Office, for his insufficient investigation of the Daesang Group’s slush funds during his appointment as head of the Incheon District Prosecutor’s Office.

Though the court eventually ruled that the alleged draft-dodging scandal was fabricated, Park, who pushed through the investigation, was promoted. Park was said to have investigated suspicions regarding military service evasions by the son of Lee Hoi-chang, former head of the Grand National Party, that were proposed by Kim Dae-eop with political motives in mind while working as head of Special Investigation Unit I of the Seoul District Court in July 2002.

It was later found that Park asked then-Rep. Lee Hae-chan to “help him create an atmosphere conducive to (this) investigation in the National Assembly.” Pointing out the lack of fairness in the investigation, the prosecutor general even asked the Minister of Justice to transfer Park. Last May, the Supreme Court ruled that the scandal was a political fraud.

It is hard to disassociate Hwang’s failure with the Roh administration’s view toward public security prosecutors. It is well known that those currently in power who had been under the radar of the prosecution for going against the National Security Law in the past have a grudge toward public security prosecutors. Though some political prosecutors are problematic, it is worrying that in a democratic society, the current trend is to deny the role of public prosecutors through this sort of action.

Moreover, Deputy Director Hwang ignored “orders” from the majority party during the National Intelligence Service wiretapping scandal and arrested two former heads of the National Intelligence Service from the Kim Dae-jung administration, giving rise to speculation that this round of promotions was a form of political retribution.