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[Editorial] Improper Screening of Prosecutor-General

Posted July. 15, 2009 08:22,   


Chun Sung-gwan, the presidential office’s nominee for prosecutor-general, failed to shake off the allegation that he received funds from lobbyists at a National Assembly confirmation hearing yesterday. The presidential office said Chung can achieve a forward-looking prosecution to gain the people’s trust, but it remains doubtful whether he can serve as the country’s highest prosecutor.

Chun said he borrowed 1.55 billion won (1.2 million U.S. dollars) from a businessman, 500 million won (390, 000 dollars) from his brother, and 300 million won (231,000 dollars) from his brother-in-law to buy an apartment for 2.87 billion won (2.2 million dollars) in April. Chun said his friend introduced him to the businessman 10 years ago and that he does not see him often, but failed to explain how he could borrow at four-percent interest, a far cry from the market rate. This could constitute comprehensive bribery. When the businessman was named as a witness for the hearing and a parliamentary summons was issued for him, he fled to Japan and returned last night after the hearing ended.

It makes no sense that Chun’s brother, whose social security number was erased because he failed to pay 1.6 million won (1,236 dollars) in residential taxes for two years, lent Chun 500 million won (390,000 dollars). Chun is said to have repaid part of his debts by borrowing 750 million won (579,000 dollars) from a bank. He reportedly earns six million won (4,636 dollars) per month, but how could he live with a monthly interest payment of five million won (3,863 dollars)? His wife leases a luxury car for 1.7 million won (1,313 dollars) per month. Ruling party lawmakers say Chun is thrifty enough to serve as a prosecutor, but his home is worth 2.9 billion won (2.2 million dollar) and his wife leases a luxury car and bought a 3,000 dollar handbag on an overseas golfing trip. How can this type of spending be called humble? Is the ruling party the party of the rich?

In addition, a discrepancy of 100 million won (77,000 dollars) was shown between his revenue for 2007 and last year and his credit card expenditures and receipts. Prosecutors gave the excuse that investigation funds and subsidies for his job were not reported in his earnings, but if the money was used for personal purposes, this is a more serious problem. For two years, 98 million won (75,700 dollars) from an unknown source flowed into his son’s savings account. Chun also lied that his son held his wedding at a Seoul suburb, when the venue turned out to be the ritzy W Hotel in the city.

The prosecutor-general requires the proper attitude and a high level of morality as the highest prosecutor in the country. Did the senior presidential secretary for civil administration even bother to screen Chung to see if such a problematic person could fill the post? There is no way of knowing whether the secretary was unaware of Chun’s flaws or went ahead with the nomination despite knowing of them. One thing is clear, however: Chun lacks the ethics and material to serve as prosecutor-general in all aspects.