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A mockery of voters (KOR)

Mar 18,2020
In a perplexing development, people under investigation or indicted by the prosecution are running for seats in the National Assembly in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Major figures who were accused of intervening in the 2018 Ulsan mayoral election have been nominated as the ruling Democratic Party’s candidates for the April 15 general elections. Such nominations not only enrage voters but also defy the rule of law. Examples are aplenty, including former Ulsan police chief Hwang Un-ha, running for a legislative seat in Daejeon city; former senior presidential secretary for political affairs Han Byung-do, running in Iksan, North Jeolla; and Lim Dong-ho, a former senior member of the ruling party, running in Ulsan.

They were indicted on charges of interfering in the Ulsan mayoral election to help Song Cheol-ho, a close friend of President Moon Jae-in, win by probing alleged corruption involving his challenger, then-Mayor Kim Gi-hyeon. If proven true, that constitutes a serious abuse of power.

Lim, the candidate in Ulsan, is suspected of having abandoned his bid for the Ulsan mayoral race two years ago in return for a high position offered by the Blue House. Han, the candidate in Iksan and a friend of Lim, is suspected of helping arrange the deal behind the scenes, suggesting the possibility of the presidential office getting involved in a dirty scheme.

The current law does not bar criminal suspects from running in elections because of the presumption of innocence. Given the details of their indictments, however, many people see a methodical intervention in an election by the Blue House. Considering the deepening public concern, these figures should have refrained from bidding for legislative seats. We wonder how they could ask any voters to support them.

Controversy also arose after Choi Kang-wook, a presidential secretary for civil service discipline, resigned Monday, probably to run for a proportional seat in the legislature. He was indicted for allegedly issuing a fake certificate for the son of former Justice Minister Cho Kuk to help him get into universities. Despite his repeated denials, it is simply not right for Choi to run.

We have never seen a rush by ruling party members to run even while they are on trial. Political analysts link it to the Moon administration’s need to put pressure on the prosecution by winning an election victory. But that’s a futile dream. The ruling party must withdraw their nominations before it is too late.