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Moon’s integrity at stake (KOR)

Dec 03,2019
After the prosecution and the press’ investigations, suspicions over the possibility of the Blue House having abused its powers are piling up one after another. The suspicions are powerful enough to shatter the public’s trust in the integrity of the liberal administration. And yet members of the powers that be are simply brushing them off as if they are trivial. All of that reminds us of the disastrous lead-up to the collapse of the leadership of the country in the past.

At the center of the storm is Baek Won-woo, a former secretary for civil affairs at the Blue House. He is suspected of having forced the local police to investigate former Ulsan Mayor Kim Gi-hyeon shortly before the June 13 local elections last year to help his rival from the ruling Democratic Party win in the mayoral election. Inspecting elected officials and private citizens is beyond his jurisdiction. Baek says he only delivered information on corruption involving mayor Kim to the police. But that was a lie as one of his inspection team members actually went to the Ulsan police for unknown reasons. Eventually, Kim’s rival Song Cheol-ho, a close friend of President Moon Jae-in, was elected mayor, raising doubts about his election victory partly thanks to Baek’s — a close aide to President Moon — help.

There is testimony that Baek created a separate special inspection team inside the office of the senior presidential secretary for civil affairs led by former Justice Minister Cho Kuk at the time. The team reportedly was even wiretapping smartphones of civil servants. If proven true, that is a serious violation of the law. Coincidently, an investigator who had been working under Baek committed suicide Sunday for very suspicious reasons.

Baek is also possibly involved in covering up corruptions of former Busan vice mayor Yoo Jae-soo. A concerned party claimed that Baek was behind the decision by Cho Kuk — a senior presidential secretary for civil affair at the time — to stop the Blue House’s inspection on Yoo. As the case involves other key aides to President Moon, including South Gyeongsang Gov. Kim Kyoung-soo, it suggests their collective help with Yoo’s promotion to top posts despite many allegations against him.

That’s not all. Moon’s aides are suspected of helping the owner of a hospital — a close friend of Moon — get loans amounting to $100 million from banks with no clear reason. A witness said they even pressured the police to stop investigations into the suspicious loans. If such allegations prove true, that is a case even more explosive than the Cho Kuk scandal.

President Moon must order the prosecution to get to the bottom of all the suspicions, as the morality of the self-proclaimed clean government is at stake. Yet he kept his mouth shut in his meeting with senior secretaries on Monday. If his aides really hope for a successful presidency of their boss, they must tell the truth before it is too late.

JoongAng Ilbo, Dec, 3, Page 34