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Refreshing rulings

Feb 14,2020
On Thursday, three meaningful rulings came from our courts. First, three judges who had been indicted on charges of power abuse during the Park Geun-hye administration were found not guilty. Second, the Supreme Court overruled a lower court’s conviction of former Presidential chief of staff Kim Ki-choon and former Cultural Minister Cho Yoon-sun in the so-called white list scandal involving the Park administration’s lopsided support for conservative artists. Third, the top court upheld a lower court’s ruling that sentenced power blogger Kim Dong-won — better known by his internet alias Druking — to three years in prison for his online opinion rigging campaign on behalf of South Gyeongsang Gov. Kim Kyung-soo ahead of a local election.

In a separate case last year of the “black list scandal” involving former presidential chief of staff Kim and Cho, who allegedly did not offer subsidies to liberal artists, lower court rulings were overturned after the Supreme Court declared the application of power abuse charges inappropriate. The courts continue to put the brakes on the Moon Jae-in administration’s effort to punish top officials from the Park administration and senior judges under former Chief Justice Yang Seung-tae. With the Druking case, the Supreme Court recognized the power blogger violated the election law by using sophisticated tools to manipulate public opinion.

Such rulings strongly suggest that the liberal Moon administration pressed ahead with what it called “rooting out past evils” in a way that was against the law. At the same time, those rulings show that the administration’s firm belief in itself — that it is virtuous whereas the former administration was evil — is ill-grounded, exposing a critical defect in its ideology.

The Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s ruling that found Gov. Kim guilty, as “the act of manipulating online opinion constitutes a serious crime and obstruction of fair elections through the distortion of the political will of voters.”

In the first trial in the Druking case, Gov. Kim was sentenced to two years in prison for colluding with Druking to win the gubernatorial election. The Supreme Court’s ruling shows that Kim, a core member of the Moon administration, tried to sway public opinion to his favor arbitrarily.

The judiciary underscored the harmfulness of election fraud through its ruling on the Druking case. Such a position of the courts can affect a final ruling in a case involving a number of Blue House officials and other figures who allegedly tried to help President Moon’s long-time friend win the 2018 Ulsan mayoral election by pressuring the police to investigate alleged corruption of aides to then-Ulsan Mayor Kim Gi-hyeon. Intervention in an election is an even graver crime than manipulating public opinion online. The Blue House and Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae must stop trying to conceal what happened. The Cho Kuk scandal laid bare the shameful double standards of the liberals. We hope they realize they can’t fool the public so easily.

JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 14, Page 30