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A search for the truth

Dec 06,2019
Prosecutors have raided the Blue House after the court warranted them to obtain materials from the presidential office to prove the accusation that it was involved in deterring a probe into a former Busan vice mayor for taking bribes. Instead of a random seize, investigators received documents handed over by the authorities from the presidential secretariat office out of respect for confidentiality for security reasons. The prosecution disclosed the action based on the provision in the new public disclosure article that says information sharing about an investigation into a critical event “should be known to the public.”

It is a shame that the Blue House has come under a prosecution search. But the presidential office no longer has the indemnity from criminal investigation. It came under probe for special investigation of the power abuse scandal involving former President Park Geun-hye, who was impeached. At the time, the Blue House disallowed entry of special investigators. The prosecutors were eventually barred from entering the Blue House and had to settle for the documents given by the Blue House at the front gate. Their second visit was also blocked after then-acting president Hwang Kyo-ahn refused to sanction it.

The people need not know how an investigational probe proceeds. But the Blue House has a duty to be honest to the people. The Moon Jae-in Blue House must truthfully explain whether it tried to cover up a special investigation into former Busan Vice Mayor Yoo Jae-soo and whether it helped a close friend of the president to win the Ulsan mayoral post in a local election last year.

As the former Park administration blocked prosecutors from entering the Blue House premises, this government can do better. Cho Kuk, who was then a professor at Seoul National University, criticized then-acting president Hwang for blocking prosecutors from entering the presidential office, claiming that it represented a disregard for a judiciary judgment. Civilian groups campaigning for the impeachment of Park also criticized the move as it interfered with public duties.

President Moon Jae-in who was the leading presidential candidate at the time also demanded Hwang allow a search in the Blue House. To keep consistent with its words and prove its innocence, the Moon administration must open its doors wide and invite prosecutors into the Blue House. Otherwise, it will only invite more suspicions.

JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 5, Page 34