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No longer a ‘death note’

Sept 16,2019
CHOI MIN-WOO
The author is a deputy political team editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

In August 2017 when Park Ky-young was nominated for the head of the Science, Technology and Innovation Office in the Moon Jae-in administration, the left-wing Justice Party’s “death note” was first mentioned. Foreign minister nominee Kang Kyung-wha, defense minister nominee Song Young-moo and fair trade commissioner nominee Kim Sang-jo — opposed by the opposition Liberty Korea Party, People’s Party and Bareunmirae Party — could land their job. But justice minister nominee Ahn Kyong-whan and labor minister nominee Cho Dae-yop, who the Justice Party had opposed, resigned.

On Park Ky-young, the nominee for the head of the Science, Technology and Innovation Office, the Justice Party claimed that she had violated research ethics, and three days later, she resigned. People started to say that the death note was accurate and creepy. The climax of the death note was the former head of the Financial Supervisory Service Kim Ki-sik who withdrew over the “self-sponsor” controversy during his term as lawmaker.

After the controversial appointment of Cho Kuk as justice minister, many people think the death note is no longer valid because the Justice Party supported his appointment despite all the allegations against him and his family. That’s a double standard. Compared to the suspicions about them in the death note — Ahn Kyong-whan’s unlawful marriage registration, Cho Dae-yop’s drunk driving, Cho Dong-ho’s attendance at unreliable seminars and Choi Jung-ho’s real estate speculation — controversies involving Cho are far-reaching: suspicious involvements in a private equity fund and his daughter’s education.

The Justice Party was not consistent. At first, there was a negative atmosphere in the party toward Cho, but the mood changed as the Special Committee for Judicial Reform passed a bill aimed at increasing the number of seats for minority parties like the Justice Party. People say the death note has turned into a “deal note.”

“Death Note” is a 2003 Japanese manga series. Light, a student, picks up a notebook, and if he writes a name on the notebook, that person dies. Light writes the names of criminals who were not punished and tries to fight evil. But as the serial murders becomes a social issue, Light cries out that he is justice, the god who saves weak people from evil.

Is the theme of the Japanese comic asking if justice is reflected in reality? As it turned out, the last name written on the death note in the comic series is Light.