As the prosecution has launched an investigation into allegations that an economic feasibility assessment on the Wolseong-1 was rigged, ruling party leaders and the justice minister alike are putting pressure on the prosecution to stop the ongoing investigation. Ruling Democratic Party of Korea leader Lee Nak-yon on Friday defined the prosecution's investigation as a politically intended enquiry that only leads to abuse of prosecuting authority. "I demand that the prosecution should put the brakes on its dangerous and reckless driving,” Lee said. “I will not shut my eyes to some prosecutors who act politically.” Floor Leader Kim Tae-nyeon of the ruling party criticized that the prosecution pulls the strings behind the administration by abusing its authority to investigation, adding that its interventions have reached dangerous levels.
It is an unprecedentedly aggressive intervention that the government's major leaders press the prosecution altogether upon the initiation of the investigation. They seemingly intend to explicitly call for the suspension or reduction of the investigation worrying about the negative impact on the nuclear-free policy or one of the Moon Jae-in administration's governance goals.
However, there are weak logical grounds that the ruling party criticizes the investigation into the nuclear-free policy as a politically intended move. The prosecuting investigation started with a notification that was sent after the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) carried out an inspection and an indictment was submitted by the opposition parties. The prosecution was authorized to execute a comprehensive search and seizure warrant for the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) and the headquarters of the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) upon launching an investigation on Thursday because the court recognized the grounds for an investigation to occur and allowed the issuance of most of the search and seizure warrants claimed by the prosecution.
A series of inspections led by the The BAI revealed that the ministry reported on an economic feasibility of the Wolseong-1 that was arbitrarily lowered, which served as grounds for the early closure of the nuclear power plant, so as to put things in the frame of President Moon's policy directions. It is necessary to execute additional investigations to see if there have been any criminal acts such as abuse of authority or forgery of documents. The Wolseong-1 was shut down four years earlier than its lifespan that had been extended to November 2022 with taxpayers’ 700 billion won spent on the project. This requires the prosecution to dig up the case to bring justice to those who sat on their hands or turned a blind eye to the economic loss due to the early closure. Also, it is critically important to find the truth about the ministry’s officials destroying data, identify those behind the scenes and carry out punishment on them.
Apart from this issue, the ruling party has already damaged rule of law and the independence of the prosecution severely. If Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae intervenes in the ongoing investigation by ordering a suspension, assigning another case as grave as the current one or reshuffling the investigative team, she will never avoid condemnation for an explicit infringement on rule of law and the independence of the prosecution. Importantly, it is the time that the prosecution should abide by legal principles to prevent controversy over a pretextual arrest or an excessive investigation and endeavor to reveal the hidden truth without hesitation.