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Failure to communicate

Dec 17,2019
On Sunday, Yoon Do-han, senior presidential secretary for public communication, claimed that Yoo Jae-soo, a former senior official at the Financial Services Commission (FSC), South Gyeongsang Gov. Kim Kyung-soo, Youn Kun-young, director of State Affairs Planning and Monitoring Office, and Blue House administrator Chun Gyung-deuk have not created a chat room on Telegram Messenger. He also denied news reports that the four of them discussed high-level personnel affairs of the powerful commission. But Yoon’s explanation stopped way short of clarifying whether they really discussed such affairs — or whether they simply didn’t discuss them on Telegram.

If the latter is the case, Yoon’s remarks could be a sly attempt to dilute the essence of the controversy: unauthorized meddling by President Moon Jae-in’s aides in personnel affairs of a weighty financial institution. After Yoon came up with his explanation, the prosecution announced that it will investigate the suspicion.

Secretary Yoon denied the news reports that Yoo — the former FSC official at the center of the controversy — asked Youn and administrator Chun to plea for a suspension of probes by the Office of the Senior Presidential Secretary for Civil Affairs and that the solicitation was delivered to Baek Won-woo, a secretary for civil affairs in the office at the time. Despite the graveness of the issue, the revised guidelines for public releases from the prosecution forbids prosecutors from making public the results of their ongoing investigations.

Under such circumstances, Yoon behaves as a lawyer for those suspects and delivers their arguments to the press as if they are true. His act also serves as a Blue House guideline for the prosecution’s probe. We wonder if that was the very reason for the government to gag prosecutors through its recent prosecutorial reforms.

Yoon came up with another weird explanation. “An inspection by the Blue House requires consent from a suspect. But Yoo refused further probes, although he complied with our inspection in the beginning,” said Yoon. That means the presidential office had to stop inspecting Yoo for unknown reasons. The prosecution argued the very act constituted a dereliction of duty and abuse of power. Who would believe Yoon’s statement that even the mighty Blue House could not but stop inspecting Yoo because of his refusal?

What the public wants to hear is what really happened. We hope Yoon does not betray public expectations for transparency in this government.

JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 17, Page 34