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Time to earn public trust

July 18,2019
President Moon Jae-in appointed Yoon Seok-youl as prosecutor general despite strong protests from the opposition parties after he was found lying under oath during a confirmation hearing. Moon rubber-stamped the nomination after the opposition refused to send a confirmation report on the nominee to the Blue House. He signed off the appointment — a legitimate presidential authority — after the legislature missed the deadline to hand in a confirmation report.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) called the president’s repeated defiance of the legislature’s opposition to appointments of senior government officials “an act of arrogance and disrespect to the people and the National Assembly.” But the opposition must have known that the appointment would have been endorsed no matter what dirt it found on the veteran prosecutor who had led many investigations of the previous wrongdoings of administrations under conservative presidents Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye. Since the LKP and other opposition leaders have agreed to Moon’s invitation to the Blue House today, the opposition won’t likely drag on its protest against the new prosecution chief.

It is now up to the new prosecutor general to answer to the faith from the president and public expectations on prosecution reform. Moon has vowed to achieve prosecutorial reforms and a crackdown on the wrongdoings of former conservative administrations. Yoon promised to do his part in rooting out corruption chains and completing prosecutorial reform.

He must uphold the president’s wishes and also command 2,200 state prosecutors to uphold law and order. He must find a balance to diffuse the almighty power of the prosecution and undo its image as the servant of governing power. Political neutrality and sovereignty in investigation must be ensured. Finding the best balance in the separation of investigative powers between the prosecution and the police is also crucial.

Yoon also must also mend ties with the court after the prosecution’s probe on Supreme Court justices.

If he can achieve all these challenging tasks, he could be one of the most successful prosecution chiefs. But none of that will be easy. Being the prosecutor general demands of extra purity and perfection. “I do not show loyalty to a person,” Yoon said. He must prove it through his actions.

JoongAng Ilbo, July 17, Page 30