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Present ‘ills’

Nov 14,2017
Following former Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin’s arrest Saturday, the prosecution appears to have former President Lee Myung-bak in its sights for the Cyber Command’s alleged meddling in domestic politics. Kim was detained last weekend on charges of having ordered manipulation of online posts from 2011 to 2012 after recruiting pro-government civilian officers for the job. The prosecution says it has obtained documents suggesting that the command reported to the Blue House about the results of its cyberattacks on the liberal Kim Dae-jung administration’s Sunshine Policy and that President Lee ordered Kim to select staff based on their loyalty to the government.

Before embarking on a trip to Bahrain Monday, former President Lee said that he began to wonder if such investigations are really a part of the Moon Jae-in administration’s campaign to root out “past ills,” as it claims. Lee defined the prosecution’s investigations as political revenge on him.

Between 2011 and 2012, there was a call in our society to bolster our military’s cyber war capabilities to cope with mounting cyber terrorism from North Korea. The foreign media’s reported that Pyongyang was training a 30,000-strong army for cyber war campaigns. The North carried out several distributed denial-of-service attacks on our government, financial institutions and the press.

Minister Kim argued that the activities of Cyber Command were part of a normal military operation aimed at deterring North Korea from cyberattacks on us. If the command really interfered in domestic politics, it must be punished. But it is going too far if the prosecution accuses the military without clear evidence. It remains to be seen if President Lee really ordered a manipulation of public opinion through posting politically motivated messages on the internet.

Political circles’ reactions aren’t helping. The chair of the ruling Democratic Party, Choo Mi-ae, is stoking anti-Lee sentiment by linking her Facebook page to articles suggesting Minister Kim admitted Lee’s involvement. This is an attempt to tarnish a former head of state’s reputation. It is lamentable that politicians want to incite public outrage solely out of political motivations.

The Blue House and ruling party believe that penalizing those who worked for the past administration marks the start of restoring justice in Korea. They justify their “crusade” in the name of removing “past ills.” The public is increasingly worried that the current government may repeat the same ills — political revenge — as its predecessors.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 14, Page 34