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Sincere cooperation is key

Mar 22,2017
The appearance of former President Park Geun-hye at the prosecutors’ office for questioning will be recorded as another sad chapter in the history of our democracy. The people have mixed feelings about her dramatic fall from grace. On arriving at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office on Tuesday morning, the former president said that she was sorry and would “sincerely” answer questions from prosecutors. It took only six seconds for her to finish the two sentences.

We are disappointed at the short statement she has made for the first time since the Constitutional Court’s March 10 ruling upholding the National Assembly’s motion to impeach her over the abuse of power scandal. Given the immense national division and chaos over the last few months, many people expected her to use words such as “forgive” or “regret,” but to no avail.

Yet we want to attach significance to her choice of the word “sincerely.” As a matter of fact, she backpedaled on an earlier promise to fully cooperate with the prosecution’s investigation and did not comply with the prosecution’s and independent counsel’s calls for face-to-face questioning. The Constitutional Court singled out her insincerity as one of the main reasons for removing her from office. Though she might have used the word “sincerely” simply as a cliché, it nevertheless carries great significance.

Park has become a suspect with 13 charges ranging from bribery to abuse of power and from coercion to leaks of confidential government documents. The prosecution say they have obtained sufficient evidence of her deviations through a number of testimonies. But she insisted on her innocence by attributing all those suspicions to her opponents’ bids to set her up and dethrone her over the “concocted” existence of a black list of anti-Park artists and writers as well as over corporate leaders’ forced donations for the Mi-R and K-Sports foundations. She said that truth will prevail, and yet didn’t prove her innocence through clear evidence.

The goal of the investigation is to reveal the truth and not to repeat the same mistakes again. Park surely has a right to defend herself through intense legal battles. But she must exercise the right to help the prosecution tell the whole truth behind the chaebol’s donations for the two suspicious foundations. That’s her last duty.

Now, the question is whether the prosecution will arrest her or not. Given her status as former president, the prosecution will wrestle with the question. Most people want her arrest as no one is above the law. But the decision should be based on her cooperation. We hope Prosecutor General Kim Soo-nam makes a wise decision.

JoongAng Ilbo, March 22, Page 30