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Inching toward the president

Jan 24,2017
The fall of Kim Ki-choon, former presidential chief of staff, and Cho Yoon-sun, former culture minister, seen being taken into custody in handcuffs by the independent counsel team on Sunday, symbolizes the arrogance and underhandedness of the inner circle of President Park Geun-hye. The two were referred to as the “king” and “Cinderella” because of the president’s confidence in them. They have been indicted to prove Park had been behind the order to create a blacklist of writers and artists critical of her administration, a crucial finding to bring charges against the president and affect her impeachment trial at the Constitutional Court.

The independent counsel has been going all-out to build a case around the blacklist after its efforts to question the president’s whereabouts during the sinking of the Sewol ferry in 2014 and connect her to corporate donations made to her friend Choi Soon-sil. The court has granted warrants to detain the two on “concerns about destruction of evidence” because it was more or less convinced of their role in making a blacklist of artists and cultural figures. According to the counsel, the list was drawn up in May 2014 at the order of the president — and carried out by Kim and Cho — to end artistic activities challenging the government in its dealing of the ferry tragedy. This is authoritarianism.

The question lingers as to who prompted Kim to draw up the list. As they could not have voluntarily carried out the censorship, there could be one person behind the command. The special counsel’s decision to dig into this by indicting the two suspects suggests it is targeting the president.

Park plans to sue the independent counsel team for defamation and threatened to take criminal and civil suits against the media that reported the accusation. The president’s action is a revolt against the free press and the public’s right to know. Does she really think she can hide her crimes by charging the investigators and media for making them public?

The public is well familiar with the pattern of her behavior — denying allegations first and later admitting them when evidence is revealed.

It is hypocrisy for her to accuse investigators of leaking classified materials after she handed over secret state documents to Choi. No matter how hard she tries, she cannot erase the existence of a blacklist.

JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 23, Page 30