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[Editorial] More Rigorous Judge Appointment Process Needed

[Editorial] More Rigorous Judge Appointment Process Needed

Posted November. 12, 2009 06:09,   


The background of Seoul Southern District Court judge Ma Eun-hyeok is under question after he refused hearing a case against 12 members of the progressive Democratic Labor Party who occupied the main hall of the National Assembly to ban the passage of media bills. Ma became a key member of a leftist group in Incheon in 1987 as a college student. While working for a progressive party, he passed the judicial bar and became a judge in 2000.

The group infused Marxism and Leninism into workers with an aim to topple free democracy and achieve a socialist revolution. Ma also played a crucial role in forming the Korea Socialist Labor Party and integrating progressive parties. He contributed a host of articles to journals and university magazines to propagate Marxism. After finishing college, his role in socialist movements continued for a considerable amount of time.

Of course, most who took part in anti-government and leftist movements in college are now contributing to society. A case in point is Gyeonggi Province Gov. Kim Moon-soo. Once a left-leaning student activist, he is now serving the people of the province as a sound conservative.

It is unfair to ban those involved in anti-government movements in the past from being judges. Eligibility for a judge, however, should be thoroughly assessed by reviewing his or her work ethic and political and ideological impartiality. If someone took part in activities that denied the legitimacy of the country and the Constitution and refuses to renounce such anti-establishment views, he or she is unfit to be a judge.

Judges must maintain political neutrality and refrain from participating in political activities. People can raise suspicion over Ma’s eligibility as a judge given that he dismissed a controversial case and joined a fundraising event for Roh Hoi-chan, chairman of the New Progressive Party and a former lawmaker of the Democratic Labor Party.

Due to the guarantee of a judge’s status, certain members on the bench have been allowed to keep their positions despite causing a stir by making partial rulings and expressing improper words and behavior. This is why a more rigorous appointment process is needed. Though appointed a judge after passing a rigorous appointment process, if a candidate is found to be unqualified later, expulsion should come through a reappointment process once every 10 years.