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Prosecution on shaky ground due to ‘secret around DNA’

Prosecution on shaky ground due to ‘secret around DNA’

Posted September. 26, 2013 07:09,   


As for a series of events that have happened since Prosecutor General Chae Dong-wook tendered his resignation in connection with a child he allegedly fathered through extramarital affairs, fact-finding should come first than anything else. If the issue is viewed through ideology or political prism, facts will be neglected. What Chae should do at this point to help the child, identified by his last name Chae, who is suspected as Chae’s biological child, and to ensure organizational stability of the prosecution is to get DNA test as soon as possible.

Filing a lawsuit against the Chosun Ilbo to carry a correction on the newspaper’s report that first raised the suspicion, Chae said, “I urge (the child who was singled out by Chosun) to take DNA test at the earliest date.” However, if he wants to promptly identify the truth, he should not be filing a lawsuit and asking via documents the child’s side to cooperate in DNA test. If the facts over the case are to be identified at court, it takes a long time, while the court is not entitled to force the child’s side to take DNA test. What Chae should be doing is to earnestly persuade the child’s mother, identified by her last name Lim, and have the child take DNA test in an objective fashion, which will resolve all controversy.

When the Chosun Ilbo conclusively reported that Chae fathered the child through extramarital affairs, Lim sent letters to Chosun and Hankyoreh dailies. According to the letter, Lim told her son and her acquaintances that Chae Dong-wook’ was her child’s father. In the letter, Lim explained that “Though the child’s father is a person with last name Chae…, he has nothing to do (with Chae Dong-wook).” She thus suggested that if her child’s father had been Chae Dong-wook, she would have sought childrearing expenses from him, but she has never received financial aid from the prosecutor general. In the rankings of Korean last names in terms of population size, Chae stands at 52nd. Given this, as the child’s father is also claimed to be Chae, the two Chaes are apparently in quite unique relations. The man might not know, but the woman who gave birth should know who the child’s father is. It is difficult to understand solely from her letter why she told lies to people around her, which eventually could spawn massive ramifications to Prosecutor General Chae’s post as civil servant and his family, even though the child is not actually his son.

What Prosecutor General Chae should do is to clarify whether he is the child’s biological father or not. If the child is misunderstood, the child’s “false belief” that the mother gave should be corrected. This might be somewhat cruel to the child but if he should learn the truth one day eventually, avoiding telling him the truth will not solve the problem. Reversely, however, if Prosecutor General Chae is found to be his biological father, even though he himself has not been aware of it thus far, it would be humanely correct to enable the child to be able to call him father.

It is also questionable how a scandal so explosive that the prosecutor general is effectively forced to tender a resignation half way through his term in office was not revealed during the presidential office’s screening and his parliamentary confirmation hearing. If the presidential office had known such a scandal, it would not have appointed him as top prosecutor. The presidential office started suspecting Chae, when the main opposition party endorsed Chae, saying “Only good episodes are unearthed despite thorough review of his eligibility.” Investigating the National Intelligence Service’s alleged intervention in last year’s presidential election, Chae disregarded the Justice Ministry’s opinion, and thus gave burden to President Park Geun-hye. If those in power had known his drawbacks, they would have tried to expose them. No matter how the suspicions surrounding Chae were revealed, controversy over the child born through extramarital affairs is a cause grave enough for his disqualification as prosecutor general. Only when the top prosecutor is completely innocent in all aspects, he or she can protect prosecution’s independence from those in power or the opposition party.

“I led the prosecution only in compliance with laws and principles, identified the truth surrounding all different cases at the fairest and most objective stance, and applied laws accordingly.” When Chae made such remarks of resignation, which led to prosecutors’ collective expression to protest, the Justice Ministry announced that it will decline the resignation, but will continue inspecting him. The administration would not have wanted to hear criticism that the presidential office and the Justice Ministry forced the righteous and innocent prosecutor general to resign by mobilizing all means of pressure at their disposal.

Even if the child is Prosecutor General Chae’s son, it is not a crime but a matter of a civil servant’s ethics. Without cooperation by Chae and Lim, whatever the ministry finds through its inspection, it will only constitute circumstantial evidence. The public can determine whether the allegation over the child is true or not based on Chae’s response from now on. If Lim voluntarily takes DNA test to relieve Chae from “wrongful accusations,” the truth can be easily identified. If Lim and her son deny DNA test, their right should be respected as well. They are not public figures. Privacy should not be infringed upon against the will of the mother and her son to determine the factuality of media reporting or to satisfy the public’s curiosity.

The presidential office should stabilize the prosecution that is on shaky ground by promptly appointing a new prosecutor-general. The presidential office and the Justice Ministry should let Chae go to become an ordinary individual, and then wait and see how proactively he seeks to take DNA tests.