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Facts and legality are key

July 17,2018
On Sunday, shortly after returning from official visits to India and Singapore, President Moon Jae-in ordered the military to present to him personally all documents related to the drafting of martial law plans last year, allegedly aimed at suppressing a potential uprising if the Constitutional Court didn’t remove President Park Geun-hye from office.

The military institutions involved in the drafting of plans to declare martial law included the Ministry of National Defense, the Defense Security Command, the Special Warfare Command and the Capital Defense Command. The Blue House said there is a need for President Moon to confirm as commander in chief what really happened and if a martial law decree was truly ready to be carried out.

Given the sharp division of public opinion over such shocking news, we fully understand Moon’s decision. That order falls under the jurisdiction of the commander in chief. What is questionable is the Blue House’s making public the details of the president’s instructions. Immediately after the Blue House announcement, suspicions are mushrooming among political and military circles over potential conflict between President Moon and Defense Minster Song Young-moo and over allegedly widening schisms between Moon’s aides and Minister Song.

Moreover, Sunday was the day when a special investigation team set up by Moon launched a probe of the plans to declare martial law. More than 30 staff working for the team have kicked off an investigation of the case, including preparations by the Defense Security Command and other suspicious activities. The team was authorized by the president to get to the bottom of the case independently. If he really wants to respect the integrity of the team, he must allow it to delve into the case without any pressure from outside — including from himself. In that sense, the Blue House should have approached the situation more prudently.

The core question is why Defense Security Command meddled in politics at such a sensitive time. The investigation team must find out who ordered it and whether the plans were drafted by the command alone. What comes next is finding out whether the plan was for reference or for execution. Figuring out whether the command violated the law comes next.

Considering what has been revealed so far, it is difficult to draw a line between good and evil. While the investigation is underway, the public — and the Blue House, in particular — must wait until the team comes up with investigation results.

JoongAng Ilbo, July 17, Page 30