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Withdraw Lee’s nomination

Apr 16,2019
Lee Mi-sun, a justice nominee for the Constitutional Court, has continued to confuse people as she defends the suspicious stock investments she made with her lawyer husband Oh Choong-jin. Oh, a former judge who practices law at Lee & Ko, took to his Facebook page to propose a public debate with a lawmaker of the Liberty Korea Party (LKP) about the couple’s 4.26 billion won ($3.7 million) wealth, of which 3.5 billion won is in stocks of a single company. He invited Rep. Joo Kwang-deok to debate him on TV to clear up suspicions.

Even if Oh is frustrated about the allegations. It is baffling for a spouse of a justice nominee to be open to the idea of going on national television. One diplomat who knows Oh said he must be thinking he could speak better for his wife because he is a man and comes from the Seoul National University. “Does that mean Oh will make the legal reviews and rulings on behalf of Lee when she becomes the Constitutional Court justice?” he asked.

Oh demonstrated arrogance in his proposal of a TV debate. He claimed he could not understand why his and his wife’s stock investments had to be criticized. “We would not have faced such grilling if we had used the 3.5 billion won to buy an apartment in Gangnam instead.” Such a disdainful comments should not come from a judiciary elite who served as a judge for 13 years. A real estate purchase also would come under scrutiny if there was any suspicion behind the trade. The question is not about their stock purchase, but the method and timing of their investment.

Instead of complaining about the criticism, Lee should have presented the necessary documents in the confirmation hearing on why more than 2 billion won had been invested in eTec Engineering and Construction and another unit under the OCI Group, which was one of the cases Lee handled in the court, and why they sold a bulky amount of the shares just before the stocks were ordered for transaction suspension. Even judges said they could not understand how Lee could have made over 5,500 stock trades during her lunch break.

Oh opened a Facebook page just a day after his wife was grilled in a confirmation hearing last week. A LKP lawmaker suspected Cho Kuk — the senior presidential secretary of civil affairs in charge of selecting candidates for senior public offices — was behind Oh’s social media campaign in a bid to aid Lee. A Constitutional Court justice weighs legalities ranging from specific law provision to presidential impeachment. A justice on the highest court is required to have the highest morality and integrity, not to mention strict compliance to law and order. The Blue House must read public sentiment and make a decision before it loses more public confidence.

JoongAng Ilbo, April 15, Page 30