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[ED] Respect court's decision

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Moon should replace Choo and make fresh start

Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl resumed working immediately Friday after a Seoul court ruled in his favor in an injunction suit he filed for against a two-month suspension from duty. The court's decision will likely deal a severe blow to Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae who has been leading the charge for disciplinary measures against the chief prosecutor. It will also pose a tremendous political setback to President Moon Jae-in, who in the end endorsed Choo's punitive step.

The Seoul Administrative Court made the decision during a second hearing, accepting Yoon's request for the injunction regarding his suspension imposed by a disciplinary committee under the Ministry of justice. It acknowledged the possible irreparable damage caused to Yoon by the disciplinary step. It also noted the alleged suspicions surrounding Yoon had lame justification, and pointed out the flaws in the process of forming the committee and proceeding with the punishment.

The court accepted Yoon's claim that the whole process lacked fairness, while rejecting Choo's representatives' assertion that the court should not interfere with the suspension as it had been endorsed by the President.

There has been growing concern that the possible suspension of the chief prosecutor would inevitably weaken the much-avowed prosecution obligation to remain politically neutral, thus undermining its independence from political influence, something the court conceded. The top prosecutor's term of office is guaranteed under the law.

The Moon administration and his governing Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) should humbly accept the judiciary decision and stop its attempts to expel the chief prosecutor through excessive measures.

Under Yoon's leadership, the prosecution is expected to speed up investigations into diverse corruption scandals involving Moon's confidants and corrupt politicians including the alleged rigging of the election for the Ulsan mayor, the suspicious reports that led to the closing of the Wolsong-1 nuclear reactor, and the Lime and Optimus financial fraud cases.

Choo has been the target of criticism for having been so desperate to get rid of Yoon that she ignored due legal procedures. Though she emphasized prosecutorial reform in the process, such a slogan has now become virtually meaningless as two courts have granted injunctions requested by Yoon. She needs to listen carefully to the criticism that the objective of reform has now become herself, not the prosecution.

All told, Moon, as head of state, should be held most accountable for the longstanding dispute between Choo and Yoon, as he had remained silent over the issue, tacitly endorsing the justice minister's seemingly "reckless'' offensives against the prosecutor general. Moon said Friday he respects the court's decision and offered a public apology for causing the dispute. But this is not enough.

Moon should replace Choo with a new justice minister, as she has after all already tendered her resignation. The new minister would have to conduct a massive reshuffle of both the ministry and the prosecution to inject fresh air into the organizations so that they can make a new start.

Yoon expressed appreciation for the court's ruling which he said came in recognition of the significance of rule of law and the Constitution. He should exert efforts to properly dig into truth into the diverse scandals. Toward that end, he should pay particular heed not to be inclined to any political force and refrain from adopting "selective justice" to avoid any potential allegations of a "political prosecution.''




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