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Stop pressuring the court

Feb 13,2017
The rumor mill is in full swing in Korea, worsening the schism ahead of the Constitutional Court’s impeachment trial of President Park Geun-hye. Rumors, theories and fake news dominate online platforms, and the Saturday rally against the president got bigger with the support of ultra rightists and supporters of Park. Politicians added confusion with their vocal pressure on the Constitutional Court to speed up the trial process.

The Blue House labels the public protests as a mudslinging campaign, while critics suspect the presidential office is behind the marches by nationalists. The nation has become contentious, divided and distrusting.

Constitutional Court Justice Lee Jung-mi, acting chief justice, gave a Feb. 23 deadline to the legislature to deliver its final statement on the impeachment of the president, and the same to the president for her last written defense. The highest court warned witnesses that their testimonies would be ruled out if they fail to show up on designated dates. That means its pre-judgment procedures will end by Feb. 22.

Under that timeframe, the court would hear a final defense no later than early March so that Lee would be able to deliver the court ruling before she retires on March 13.

After the trial schedule has been set, various outside forces are out to influence the court decision. The online rumor mill grinds out various rumors. Bogus reports sounding like legitimate news fuel speculation. Justice Lee warned against speculation aimed at discrediting the highest court bench. Yet law enforcement authorities are doing nothing to contain the spread of rumors.

Anti-Park rallies have moved from near the presidential office to the Constitutional Court to demand a quick judgment. Another group has gathered from various parts of the country to renounce the impeachment. The cacophony could undermine the justice.

Politicians are fanning the unrest. The main opposition Democratic Party and its presidential candidates have all called on the public to demand Park’s removal from office. Loyalists of Park have joined the pro-Park street marches.

Ahn Cheol-soo of the People’s Party remains the sole voice of reason on the opposition front, warning politicians of trying to pressure the Constitutional Court. The court ruling must be awaited without any judgment or presumption. Society should remain calm with faith in the top bench.

JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 11 Page 26