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The spear carriers

Nov 21,2018
After a group of judges representing the judiciary power passed a resolution approving the idea of impeaching their colleagues — all of who are under suspicion of involvement in a major power abuse scandal during the Park Geun-hye administration — the Democratic Party is hurriedly preparing a motion to go ahead with the impeachments in question. The Party for Democracy and Peace and Justice Party are siding with the ruling party, while the conservative Liberty Korea Party and Bareunmirae Party expressed their opposition to the idea.

As a result, the issue of impeaching sitting judges for their alleged involvements in delivering rulings that would curry favor with the conservative Park Geun-hye administration will likely turn into a political battle. As the group of judges skipped the process of discussing who should be impeached, that major issue will stir controversy even among politicians who supported the impeachment: a civic group has singled out six judges whereas a lawmaker of the Democratic Party raised the number to 13. Prosecutors have summoned as many as 100 judges to probe into their suspicious deals with the National Court Administration (NCA), the administrative arm of the judiciary.

The progressive group of judges — which can be translated into the National Conference of Judges Representing the Judiciary — can be easily misunderstood as a group effectively representing the court. That is not true: more than half of the group’s 117 members come from progressive groups of judges, including the International Human Rights Study Group. The progressive group of judges accounts for only a sixth of all judges in the judiciary.

The conference was organized by liberal judges who raised criticisms of the NCA under the leadership of former conservative Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae last year. They have been trying to make their voices heard after the liberal Moon Jae-in administration was launched in May 2017.

As the judges’ group adopted a resolution to impeach their colleagues in a single day, it could not gather opinions from each court. Some judges have even proposed to put the issue to a vote with all judges.

Some lawyers, both inside and outside the judiciary, have accused the conference of progressive judges of playing the role of spear carriers for the new mainstream of the court led by current Chief Justice Kim Myung-soo. We hope those judges reflect on what they are doing if they really want to serve their mission of upholding fairness and objectivity on the bench.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 21, Page 34