Kim Gi-chang, Professor of law, Korea University
There are news reports that the Minister of Justice has directed the prosecution to investigate citizens boycotting companies that advertise with the Chosun Ilbo, JoongAng Ilbo, and DongA Ilbo, and is demanding that those advertisers stop advertising with them. A lot of things came to mind. You can feel how the world has changed, since the prosecutors are dutifully doing what they’ve been told. Under the last government, they resisted then Justice Minister Kang Geum-sil’s use of her authority to make appointments, and they challenged the president at the time to a debate. When the minister recommended that Professor Song Du-yul be investigated without being put under arrest, they ignored the recommendation and indicted the professor while keeping him behind bars. When Justice Minister Chun Jung-bae used his authority to order the prosecution to investigate Professor Kang Jeong-ku without arresting him and went as far as explaining his legal basis for doing so, the nation’s top prosecutor resigned in what was essentially a protest, pretending he had been a failed leader who was unable to defend the honor of the members of his organization.
These days, those proud and energetic prosecutors are nowhere to be found. The Chosun, JoongAng, and DongA used to praise them for their strength as they shouted out for prosecutorial independence. Now it’s as if they’re looking at the suddenly obedient prosecution with warm affection.