News Analysis; Prosecution under Fire for Favoring Ruling Party in Election Law Probe

Korea Times (Seoul, Korea), June 2, 2000 | Go to article overview

News Analysis; Prosecution under Fire for Favoring Ruling Party in Election Law Probe


For decades, the country's prosecution has been criticized for easily bowing to political pressures. Those in power allegedly mobilized prosecutors to persecute their political opponents, a shameful tradition for many of the prosecutors who joined the ranks of law enforcement through highly difficult state exams.

When Kim Dae-jung became president through the first peaceful transition of power in Feruary 1998, most prosecutors believed that Kim, who himself suffered enormously because of the prosecution's wayward political maneuvering, would guarantee their political neutrality, at least while he was in power.

But that has not been the reality. As a string of scandals involving ruling party lawmakers, cabinet members, and others in power has erupted, controversies over the prosecution's neutrality or independence have become more intense than before.

Prosecutors had to swallow their pride last year, when Kim accepted the independent counsel system for the first time following public accusations over the series of high-profile scandals that tarnished the image of his administration.

The prosecution's latest investigation into election law violators has raised questions about its neutrality once again.

The prosecution Wednesday indicted four lawmakers _ two each from the ruling Millennim Democratic Party and the opposition Grand National Party _ on charges of violating election laws during the April 13 National Assembly election. They were Chang Young-shin and Lee Jeong-il of the MDP and Jung In-bong and Kim Moo-sung of the GNP. Rep. Lee Ho-woong of the MDP was also indicted for irregularities at a by-election in January.

The results of the probe appeared impartial with a similar number of indicted

legislators-elect coming from the two parties. However, a closer look at details of the prosecution's indictment may show its extreme partiality in favor of the ruling party.

As for Chang who was elected in the Kuro-A electoral district in southwestern Seoul, the prosecution cleared her of most serious charges such as illegally mobilizing company officials, buying votes, and distributing illegally made leaflets. …

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