Go to contents

[Editorial] Ante-up Investigation on Shin Jeong-ah Case

Posted September. 15, 2007 05:06,   


The Shin Jeong-ah case is not merely a scandal between a high ranking official and a museum curator, but an influence-peddling scandal involving the mishandling of the national budget and the abuse of Cheong Wa Dae’s authority. Moreover, numerous anomalous events that took place around Shin fuel suspicions that the presidential chief secretary on national policy is not the only person involved in the case. Judging from a variety of circumstances, one or more figures with greater authority than Byeon might also be involved in the case.

Cheong Wa Dae not only tried to protect Byeon while frequently lying about the case at press briefings, but also, as if the pot calls the kettle black, threatened the media by mentioning legal actions. Meanwhile, the prosecution also responded slowly. For instance, they did not ban Shin from leaving the country even after her forgery of academic records was found to be true, providing her a chance to leave the country. If the prosecution continues to drag out investigations while assessing the mood of Cheong Wa Dae, they will not be able to avoid rising suspicions that they are also in cahoots.

Byeon is under suspicion of abusing his authority for Shin with whom he maintained an illicit relationship while serving as the vice minister at the Ministry of Planning and Budget and the presidential chief secretary on national policy. However, considering numerous circumstances, it is difficult to believe that Byeon was the only person that supported and protected her. Hence, it is absolutely necessary to investigate other possible wirepullers or influential figures in order to resolve public suspicions.

Media reports and prosecutors’ investigations have revealed a series of circumstantial evidence that explain why Byeon exerted his influence over Shin’s appointment as a professor at a private university and as an art director of the Gwangju Biennale. Shin also said, “If you consider Byeon a wirepuller, I’d say I have countless wirepullers.” The overall picture will be uncovered only when we learn of the actual role and status of Byeon among Shin’s vast personal connections.

Dongguk University received a huge sum of funds from the Ministry of Education around the appointment of Shin as a faculty member. Big companies sponsored exhibitions organized by Shin or purchased works of art through her. Thus, the prosecutors’ investigation must ascertain whether Byeon was the only person to pull strings or if more powerful figures were also involved.

On the day when President Roh Moo-hyun half-heartily apologized for sheltering Byeon, saying “I’m in an awkward situation,” First Lady Kwon Yang-suk privately met Byeon’s wife, Park Mi-ae. In many ways, it was an inappropriate meeting. Although Park told the media that she advised Park to wisely cope with the scandal as Hilary Clinton did, the public cannot help but raise suspicions on the intent of their meeting and the details of their long conversation. Cheong Wa Dae must not criticize the media for arousing groundless suspicions over such incidences.

The Shin Jeong-ah case has also become a test assessing the prosecutions’ independence and investigation capabilities. It is under the scrutiny of the entire public eye. The prosecution must discover the truth behind the case with standard investigation tactics. If the prosecution faces limits, we have no option but to appoint an independent counsel.