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An NIS Link to the “Character Assassination & Libel” of Chae Dong-wook?

prosecutedThe JoongAng Ilbo reports that the very source of the leaked information regarding Chae Dong-wook, and the alleged son that caused his disgrace and subsequent resignation, came from an official working within the Seocho District Office that was a former aid of Won Sei-hoon, indicted director of the spy agency.  Won Sei-hoon is the one and the same NIS head that has been charged with running the online smear campaign against the Opposition Party candidate. (cite)  The information was used by the Chosun Ilbo in a thinly disguised bit of libel that had the effect of derailing Choe’s ongoing investigation into the electioneering activities of the NIS.

The Seocho District Office official, named “Cho”, had accessed the records of Chae Dong-wook several months in advance as well as being directly connected to former NIS director Won:

. . . Cho, 53, is known to be close to Won, who appointed him as his administrative secretary when he was the public administration and security minister in 2008 under the Lee Myung-bak administration. Cho followed Won to the NIS and moved to the Seocho District Office after Won’s stint as NIS chief ended in January this year.

The prosecutor’s office seems to have done some excellent work, as of late, especially when they are motivated by injustices committed against the function of their office, however this leaves us with the question of just who ordered Won to do what he did and why?

Character Assignation & Libel – A Disturbing Trend in Korean News Reporting – Part 2

prosecutedAs many know, the law, regarding libel and slander in South Korea is a problem for many, even if what has been said or printed is true.  One well known infamous instance of the libel law at work was the case of Michael Breen, the author, who was sued by Samsung for penning an obvious bit of satire.

Satire, however, takes on a whole new angle when one of the big three newspapers in South Korea prints a “satirical” letter about a public figure that refers to one of the other big newspaper’s libelous attack on the same figure.

Choi Yeong-hae (최영해) an editorial writer at the DongA Ilbo wrote just such a libelous editorial, in the form of a fictitious letter from Prosecutor General Chae Dong-wook’s alleged middle-school son, that could very easily become a target of  litigation.  What is interesting is that while Breen’s satire was mild by all reasonable accounts and not intended to have social or political effects, Choi’s letter is clearly more cogent as libel, in comparison and deliberate in its intent to focus public interest upon the PG’s integrity instead of the reasons behind the libelous attack upon the Prosecutor’s Office in the first place:

DongA Ilbo newspaper on Tuesday ran a sarcastic editorial on the love child allegations of Prosecutor General Chae Dong-wook, who was accused by Chosun Ilbo of having a child through an extramarital affair.
Choi Yeong-hae, an editorial writer for the influential paper, wrote a fictional letter to Chae as the prosecutor’s alleged 11-year-old son. In the letter, “Chae’s son” asks him why people are telling the boy that Chae is not his father. . . . Critics bashed Choi for writing a baseless editorial speculating that all the allegations against Chae were true.
“I am appalled at the fact that such gibberish survived to be published in the morning edition. In a paper where numerous people spend hours fixing the smallest of typos, did that look okay? The newspaper itself is a problem,” wrote one Twitter user.
Others expressed disgust at the editorial supposedly using an 11-year-old child to attack someone out of political interest.
“It is grotesque. The absurdity of substituting an editorial for fiction and the childish nature of the ‘literary imagination,’ and the viciousness of using a fifth-grader as a tool for political feud is all combined,” said social critic and Dongyang University professor Chin Jung-kwon. (link)

The Chosun Ilbo’s libelous attack upon the Prosecutor General Chae has grown into the sort of intrigue and yellow journalism that one would expect in the UK, only this one has serious political consequences since this case apparently is the result of the PG’s investigation and prosecution of the NIS for interfering in the last presidential election.

What quite a few people would like to avoid mentioning is that this case is not about a “love-child” or a vetted prosecutor but the motivation for launching a campaign of libel from sources of trusted public new organizations that should be above acting as agents for certain political elements in South Korea.  Very little mention is made of the fact that the Chosun Ilbo obtained information about the 11-year-old boy, and his mother, that was illegally obtained for the review of the paper’s editors.

While Breen’s criminal libel case went to trial and was thrown out by the judge on the grounds that there was “no victim.”, there is clearly a victim here in that this sort of “satire” does affect the lives of the 11-year-old boy and his mother, not to mention the work of the Prosecutor’s Office in upholding the law in South Korea.  The examples set by the editors of the Chosun Ilbo and DongA Ilbo are of a wholly different category of libel and “satire” than Breen’s case and more menacing. Koreans may no longer worry about police kicking down their doors at night and being hauled away to an uncertain end, however libel seems to be the newest weapon of choice for those with influence in the press.

Character Assassination & Libel – A Disturbing Trend in Korean News Reporting?

prosecutedMost people have heard the phrase about hammering down the nail that sticks out.

What happens when the offending nail is the chief prosecutor for the nation?

Prosecutor General Chae Dong-wook has just now been accused in the leading conservative newspaper, the Chosun Ilbo, of fathering a son, out of wedlock. Why would this be newsworthy, if true? To discredit a prosecutor that has had the temerity to question the role of the NIS in illegally exerting influence in the last presidential election?

Possible but, according to one article in the MK Business News, Prosecutor General Chae is also the man responsible for going after the illegal stash of money that Chun Doo-hwan had hidden away within his family circle:

. . . the prosecution (Chae) armed with the `Act on collecting Chun Doo-hwan’s punitive fine’ and public support ultimately led the Chun family to unveil a plan to pay the remaining fines by intimidating that the Chun family would all be subject to prosecution.
After the related ruling came out in 1997, the task has faced many bumpy roads. The issue of fine collection has resurfaced after Prosecutor General Chae Dong-wook took office. (link)

Could this mean that Prosecutor General Chae has been overzealous in his role as chief prosecutor and has made certain old-school power brokers angry by directly threatening their interests?

I certainly can not answer the question,  but it is interesting that Prosecutor Chae has demanded a retraction from the Chosun Ilbo and has announced that he is willing to take a DNA test to prove that he is not the father of the child in question. Chae also is to demand a correction from the Chosun Ilbo for incorrect, if not libelous reporting.

I would ask – though we are still trying to determine who is responsible when a government agency (NIS) interferes in an election, who is responsible when a newspaper decides to discredit a prosecutor who is trying to do his job for the welfare of the nation?

update

It is now Chief Prosecutor Chae’s turn to embarrass the Chosun Ilbo and maybe, some other unknown member of the current administration:

. . . “We decided to file a lawsuit because the Chosun hasn’t taken any action, even though we asked them on Monday to publish a correction,” said Koo Bon-seon, the spokesman of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office. “To resolve the matter, we decided to take the issue directly to court instead of going through the Press Arbitration Commission.”

. . . The Chosun Ilbo’s Sept. 6 edition mentioned the boy’s certificate of family relationship, his residence address and the specific date that he left Korea for schooling in New York. A later edition claimed that school records named the boy’s father,” two Democratic Party legislators said at a press conference. “That information can’t be obtained without cooperation from government officials. Handing over such information to another person is subject to criminal punishment”. (link)

Considering his personal character and drive, maybe Chae Dong-wook should run for president, in the future.

update

Chief General Prosecutor Chae has resigned his position stating that he would continue his suit against the Chosun Ilbo:

Today, I am relieving myself of the heavy responsibility of prosecutor general . . . ” (link)

According to Yonhap News:

. . . The resignation came shortly after the justice minister ordered an inspection of the case, saying there was an “urgent need to promote stability of the prosecution office and to reveal the truth as soon as possible.”

It marked the first time that a justice minister has ordered an inspection into the country’s top prosecutor over a scandal involving a personal matter.

Perhaps the justice minister’s unprecedented entrance into this affair was a sign from the highest levels of government that it was time for General Prosecutor Chae to leave.  Though I am not a fan of the Korea Times, their comments on the tactics of the Ministry of Justice is telling:

. . . quite a few Koreans suspect this might be a joint scheme of those in the core of power and the conservative newspaper to drive out this disobedient prosecution head.
The seed for his resignation after just five months in office was sown when he first caused friction with Cheong Wa Dae over the prosecution of state spies who allegedly meddled in elections. Chae pushed ahead with indicting a former head of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), in defiance of opposition from justice ministry, for directing NIS agents to conduct a smear campaign against opposition candidates in last year’s presidential election.
When Chae initially pushed back outside pressure by volunteering to take a genetic test and prove the Chosun Ilbo story wrong, the power elite seems to have decided to use the “inspection card,” depriving Chae of his authority and making the prosecution dysfunctional. Otherwise, it is hard to understand why the justice minister couldn’t wait until how the proposed DNA test pans out.
This page, along with most other Koreans, hope these presumptions are wrong, as we don’t want to see the nation’s democracy go back decades ago to when leaders used the state spy agency for political maneuvering. For any faithful news watchers, it was evident that the NIS, to get out of the biggest crisis the state spy agency is in because of unwarranted meddling in domestic politics, has made a series of “revelations,” ranging from the disclosure of the records of the 2007 inter-Korean summit to the latest spy ring accidents involving a leftist lawmaker.
It is also hard not to point out, as one in the same profession, the way the Chosun Ilbo reported this case: the self-imposed most influential paper neither provided any plausible grounds for its allegation nor confirmed its contents before reporting, let alone giving Chae an opportunity for a counterargument, like some irresponsible tabloids.
Two of the biggest victims of this third-rate drama will be the mother and son, whose private lives have been brutally exposed to the public gaze. It is another sad reminder of how the institutions of political power, including arrogant media outlets, can trample on basic rights of powerless individuals to pursue quiet lives ― and the urgent need to reform these agencies by the people’s power. (link)

update

Now President Park has refused to accept the resignation of Prosecutor General Chae Dong-wook, a senior official said Sunday:

 . . . “The resignation has not been accepted,” senior presidential press secretary Lee Jung-hyun told reporters. “Revealing the true should come first.” . . . A presidential aide also said that Chae’s case is not about the prosecution’s independence, but about ethics of a public official. (link)

The presidential aide completely missed the point of this issue, which is not about the PG’s ethics or independence – which were never in question before he investigated the NIS – but why has this libel been printed in a major newspaper with ties to the Saenuri Dang, at this very time?

The deputy chief of the internal inspectors’ office, Kim Yun-sang, also resigned Saturday in protest of the justice minister’s order that an outside prosecutor be named to investigate Chae.  The Deputy Chief is also quoted as criticizing the Minister:

. . . He is a bad leader who has completely failed to fight against political influences, and who failed to protect the chief of the senior investigations agency. It is also insane that the ministry didn’t consider using the prosecution’s own inspection headquarters for this work. I heard about the investigation from the news media, not from the ministry or from the prosecution organization. Such a process is unacceptable and doesn’t usually occur. (link)

 This is still unfolding and will be interesting to see just how the President plays this issue now since too many people are not going to let this issue and the NIS affair die quietly.

Nation Cannot Be Subject of Libel Suit: NHRCK

This is heartening: from the Korea Times:

The human rights commission concluded that the nation cannot be the subject of a libel suit.

In September of 2009, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) filed a defamation suit against human rights lawyer, Park Won-soon for damaging the reputation of the “state,” making the nation the plaintiff.

The National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) reached a conclusion that the state cannot be defamed and be the main body of a libel case in an inside report, Sunday.

What’s next? Blood libel?

Cartoonist Lee Won-bok, who has published a popular series of comic books (one of which I own) that teaches young people about different countries, has done a three-part series on the United States. Reading the Chosun piece on it, however, I was more than a little struck by this:

Seemingly conscious of growing anti-American feelings and public demand to take a new approach to a long-time alliance with the U.S., Lee is very careful in analyzing the U.S. in the book. “I tried to exclude my personal views of the United States as much as I could. In the case of the Iraq War, rather than focusing on the war itself, I tried to provide a big framework for American foreign policy through such things as analyzing U.S. strategy in the Middle East and the influence of Jews behind those policies.”

One can only wonder if the Jews will get the same treatment the Japanese (who were invariably portrayed as short and bucktoothed in the book I have) get — I can just imagine Lee drawing frames of hook-nosed Jews in yarmulkes counting diamonds in New York while plotting the deaths of little Iraqi children in Falluja.

No mention was made in the piece of the role of the Masons, Illuminati or Knights Templar play in U.S. foreign policy.

Leaky Cheong Wa Dae

Cheong Wa Dae really, really doesn’t like leaks:

The prosecution on Thursday questioned police Superintendent Park Gwan-cheon and conducted raids in the expanding investigation surrounding former presidential aide Chung Yoon-hoi.

Park, who served on Cheong Wa Dae’s team dealing with discipline within the civil service until February, is accused of having leaked reports regarding Chung to the media.

The memo at the center of “Memogate,” if true, confirms suspicion that a small cabol of advisors—and in the case of Chung, a guy without even an official position—are calling the shots at Cheong Wa Dae:

Disclosures by Jo and Chung offer a glimpse into the political intrigue allegedly going on inside the Blue House. Jo’s allegation that Park’s three closest secretaries were involved in government personnel appointments has brought to the fore what has long been suspected ― that the three wield great power and influence in the Blue House. Chung’s shifting comments on whether he was in contact with the presidential secretaries cast doubt on his claim that the leaked document is false. The Segye Ilbo, citing the leaked document, reported that Chung met with presidential secretaries to plot an ouster of Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon and that the group met regularly to discuss state and Blue House affairs.

The aspect of this mess I find most interesting is how Cheong Wa Dae is—well, to be perfectly accurate, eight Cheong Wa Dae officials are—going after the Segye Ilbo, which quoted the leaked report, for libel. This, naturally enough, has the press worried, with the Hankyoreh condemning the move in rather strident language:

Park’s views on the media are positively dangerous. At the meeting on Dec. 1, she railed at the Segye Ilbo newspaper for “reporting things that they could have confirmed or denied with the least effort without even contacting the people involved.” But the problem is that this isn’t a case where the “least effort” could clear things up. The prosecutors may take these people at their word when they say “not me,” but the media won’t. What’s “abnormal” is a country whose presidential office dismisses a document that it produced itself as a “tabloid sheet.” Reporting on a Blue House report is a perfectly natural part of fulfilling the mission of the media. What kind of shameless president gets angry at the newspapers instead of blaming herself for leaving her country in this abnormal state?

Mind you, it’s not just the lefties at the Hankyoreh who are concerned. In an editorial, the Chosun Ilbo also asked why a newspaper company should be charged with libel and condemned by the president for quoting a document—a document registered as a public record, mind you—written by somebody at Cheong Wa Dae and leaked by somebody at Cheong Wa Dae.

With the prosecutors now looking into the report, we should get an idea of just how much of it is true. And to be fair to Cheong Wa Dae, this isn’t the first time shadowy individuals have been suspected of having undue influence over a Korean administration, nor is Park the only elected leader in the Free World being accused of overzealously reacting to leaks.

Anyway, I can understand going after the leaker in the name of maintaining official discipline, even if Park might be accused of some hypocrisy in this regard, but unless the prosecutors turn up something we don’t know about yet, I can’t see how going after the press is going to help her administration in the long run.

Postlude – A Debt Is Paid – in 100won Coins

After  the electioneering done under the auspices of Won Sei-hoon (former head of the National Intelligence Service), where millions of tweets flooded twitter-space in a deliberate attempt to influence the presidential election in South Korea, Won has received a two and a half sentence – suspended.

According to a report by Yonhap News, “While the Seoul District Court decided he had ordered agents to post politically sensitive comments, it ruled there was not enough evidence to prove he directly sought to influence the outcome of the presidential ballot” – believe it or not. (cite)

According to the JoongAng:

The court, however, rejected the prosecution’s argument that Won violated the election law by ordering a systematic operation to influence domestic politics.
“No evidence was presented that Won made a direct order to the National Intelligence Service agents to influence the presidential election,” the court said. It also said the team’s operation was part of the agency’s routine activities.

The court said Won had a heavy responsibility as head of the NIS to protect the agency’s political neutrality and prevent its agents from meddling in politics. He, therefore, deserves severe criticism for promoting government policies while trying to smear opposition political parties, the court said. . . the court wrote “Won did not plan the operation with a purpose and he merely followed past practices.” (cite)

The court’s “get-out-of-jail-free” card was given to Won after he left prison for serving 14 months of a two year sentence for graft.

Two other former senior officials of the spy agency who had been indicted on similar charges were each sentenced to a year in prison on Thursday, but their sentences were also suspended. Both the prosecutors and the defendants have a week to appeal the verdicts. (cite)

So who is responsible for running a subversive campaign against the Republic of Korea, if it wasn’t the DPRK and it was not Won’s boss (the president)?

The Blue House! – Step by Step, Inch by Inch . . .

Like an old American Vaudeville gag routine – with each step and turn, each tick of the tock from the clock on the wall, someone is going to get burned and it looks like it may be someone from the Blue House that was found to be behind the Chosun Ilbo’s libelous attack on former General Prosecutor Chae in an illegal bid to stop the investigation into the NIS electioneering.

Seeing how Saenuri Dang is looking more and more like they are going to be found behind this case, maybe Chae can give them tips on how to deal with bad publicity.

update

 

More on the duplicity of a “Blue House Staff member”:

Seocho District official Cho Lee-je claimed that he exchanged six text messages with a Blue House staffer, in which the presidential office worker requested that he illegally access the personal information of a 54-year-old woman and her 11-year-old son – the alleged paramour and illegitimate son of former Prosecutor-General Chae Dong-wook.  . . (Cho’s) remarks are a direct contradiction to the presidential office’s initial claim that no one on its staff ever made such a request.

The Kim Jin-Tae Test

The-JinTaes

There must be lots of sunspot activity or some other quirky action as of late because there has been a remarkable occurrence of people named “Kim Jin-Tae” in the news this last month.

As a test of our reader’s perception (and maybe taste), we would like for you to pick which Jin-Tae is which.
Your choices are as follows: one Kim Jin-Tae is a great rapper (Verbal Jint) that has just quit his radio show so as to work on his next recording project (good luck to him), another Kim Jin-Tae is an experienced prosecutor, with Blue House connections, that was picked by the president to become the new Prosecutor General, replacing Prosecutor General Chae Dong-wook, who was defamed by his own party for daring to investigate the electioneering of the NIS in last year’s elections.  Another Kim Jin-Tae is a Saenuri lawmaker and Blue House aide that made the news when he threatened to make Korean protestors in Paris “pay a steep price” for their protestations against the current President Park.  Maybe that is political slang for “I’ll break your legs”, but then this Kim Jin-Tae was probably teasing since he is a politician and not a real gangster.  Finally, one of our Kim Jin-Tae’s is actually wearing a clever Kim Jin-Tae disguise but maintains an active interest in conservative political think tanks, Twitter and massage parlors.

Good luck matching your Kim Jin-Tae(s).

A Gentlemen’s Spanking Club?

justice spanking

Just when the chain of libel, reprimand and punishment was thought to have played out at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office, the senior prosecutor who sacked the prosecutor investigating the NIS agents that were involved in electioneering activities has sacked himself.

A senior prosecutor accused of exerting political pressure on a junior prosecutor investigating the spy agency’s election interference scandal tendered his resignation yesterday despite the prosecution’s official announcement that he did nothing wrong . . . Cho’s resignation came less than an hour after a junior prosecutor faced suspension for refusing to follow his directions of ordering arrests of National Intelligence Service agents outside the chain of command. (cite)

Senior Prosecutor Cho’s decision is based upon the actions of his subordinate prosecutor’s (Yoon Seok-yeol) decision to not follow procedure by warning the very people he would be raiding or arresting first since he was concerned that this could cause a rush to destroy or hide evidence (cite). Now, Yoon Seok-yeol, head of the Yeoju Branch of the Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office will be indefinitely suspended for doing his job a little too well, all in the name of internal procedure. (cite)
All this probably would not have happened if the office of General Prosecutor were not subject to political pressure from the members of the majority political group that has a vested interest in what gets investigated.  This is a primary concern since illegal actions, instigated by group members, can remain unchecked and unpunished due to interference:

. . . The prosecution also said that they could not reveal the truth about whether Cho indeed pressured Yoon not to arrest the NIS agents because of political reasons. . . Allegedly, at a private dinner, Cho told Yun, “If we arrest the NIS agents, it would help the [opposition] Democratic Party,” and “Do that [arrest them] after I resign.” (cite)

The President has promised corrective action, in a vague sort of manner, regarding this issue (taken from the JoongAng Ilbo):

. . . (I will) “strictly” investigate the allegations (electioneering, etc., etc.) and promised that anyone found guilty will be punished . . . With only two months left in this year, it is very regrettable that urgent state affairs tied to past political issues remain pending, . . . as the prime minister emphasized days earlier, I will make sure various charges now in court and under investigation are clarified according to the law.

Though the president says she “did not personally do anything to arouse suspicions,” she can certainly choose what to see or what not to see since one can not be held accountable for what they don’t see or say.  I believe that this is a major distinction between criminal activities and political solutions and, since she is a politician, she will surely keep looking until she finds nothing.

Senior Prosecutor Sacks Prosecutor Investigating NIS Agents

The special investigation into NIS electioneering has taken yet another twist.  The senior prosecutor in the Office of the Prosecutor has dismissed Yoon Seok-yeol, the chief prosecutor of the special investigation team looking into the National Intelligence Service’s (NIS) alleged interference in the 2012 presidential election.  This came shortly after the prosecutor arrested three NIS agents that were implicated in an attempt to unduly influence the last presidential election by using over 400 twitter accounts (cite).  There seems to be more concern that the NIS electioneering activity was far more extensive than originally thought:

. . . According to opposition officials, Yoon’s team suspected that the NIS under its former head Won Sei-hoon disseminated over 50,000 online comments on Twitter and other social network services to support the then ruling Saenuri Party candidate Park Geun-hye. (cite)

After Prosecutor General Chae Dong-wook was basically forced to quit by the libelous drive-by character assassination of the Chosun-Ilbo, the prosecutor that took over investigation of the NIS decided to proceed with the arrest and questioning of the NIS agents without the prior approval of his superior:

. . . the chief investigator (Yoon) did not trust the top brass when he decided to ignore the standard operating procedure (and arrest the NIS agents without telling his superior). Instead, he may have believed they would thwart his investigation into the spy agency’s alleged online smear campaign if he reported his plan to widen the investigation and arrest the three NIS officials. Their alleged use of Twitter in the campaign against the opposition candidate was a new finding from the investigation that had started several months before, but a news report (?) claimed that he did report his plan to a senior prosecutor in the line of command, and that he decided to take action on his own when the senior prosecutor continued to sit on his proposal to arrest the NIS officials. The chief investigator put his career as a prosecutor on the line when he decided to arrest the officials without obtaining official approval. If past experience is any guide, it seems to be a matter of time before he is pressured to resign as a prosecutor. (cite)

Kim Han-Gil Chairman of the Democratic Party has another theory why Yoon arrested the NIS agents without giving notice first:

. . . “Yoon believed that the NIS officials would destroy evidence if he gave prior notice to the agency, which sounds reasonable,” said Rep. Kim Han-gil, the DP chairman. “The Park government seems to be doing everything to cover up the truth.” (cite)

There is now concern that the Cyber Warfare Command – run by South Korean military – also engaged in pro-Saenuri Dang posting in an attempt to smear the DP candidate (cite).

You will notice the lack of Chosun Ilbo links on this matter as well because there are none. (update: now there is one after this thread was posted).

 

update

As per the JoongAng Ilbo today, this quote:

. . . “I told him that he must follow the legal procedure,” said Jo Yeong-gon, head of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office and Yun’s supervisor. . .“but he refused to do so and told me, ‘The Justice Ministry would never allow me to do that.’” (from phone interview)
The NIS protested the arrest of its agents to the prosecution. Yun finally released the three at about 9 p.m. on the day of the arrest, and was dismissed from his position as leader of the probe the following day.
“If a prosecutor ignores the procedures of notification to superiors, he could arrest whomever he wanted,” said Lee Jin-han, a senior prosecutor at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office. (cite)

Right . . .

update

The JoongAng Ilbo writes of Yoon’s motivations in not following strict procedure by warning suspects (NIS) that need to destroy evidence quickly before they are raided:

. . . Although Yun had an arrest warrant issued by a local court on Oct. 16, he apparently should have reported his arrest plan in advance to his superiors, the justice minister and the head of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office. Under the current law, arrests of spy agency officials require that additional step, which Yun did not take, however, Yun claimed at the hearing yesterday that he did follow appropriate internal steps, alerting his superior, Jo Yeong-gon, the head of the Seoul District Prosecutors’ Office, of his plans.

“On Oct. 15, I visited [Jo’s house],” Yun said during his testimony. “I brought my report on the investigation and briefed [him on my plans].” Jo, who also testified at the hearing, denied that it was an official notification and claimed Yun authorized the arrests himself. “We just had a casual, private conversation,” Jo said. “It was not an official notification. We were just having dinner, [and then] Yun suddenly showed me his report. I just told him to ‘review’ the report and returned it.”

Yun went on to say that his investigation was under pressure from the beginning.“At the beginning of this investigation, I had [a lot of] trouble because of external pressure,” Yun refuted, without mentioning the parties responsible. When lawmakers asked whether Justice Minister Hwang Kyo-an was one of the people who exerted pressure on his investigation, Yun replied, “I think he was.” Yun also argued that Jo dissuaded him from arresting the NIS officials because he was afraid of being criticized by the ruling party (cite).

So what does it mean when even “talented” prosecutors feel they need to resort to unusual methods to do their job?

The Cyber Warfare Command (part of the South Korean military) appears to have been involved in the same twitter-gate activities, at the same time:

Democratic Party Representative Jin Sung-joon said yesterday in an MBC radio interview that his party had obtained additional evidence regarding the postings by the cyber unit officials, which he said the party will release if the military’s investigation proves inadequate.
“What has been revealed is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Jin. “The investigation will show that this is an organized incident,” he added, rather than individuals acting on their own to make political posts. “We have many materials to support this.” He claimed the DP’s evidence shows that the Cyber Command agents also “re-tweeted comments posted by the NIS agents.” (cite)

Meanwhile, all this talk of accountability and due process of law has fallen upon deaf ears since accountability could possibly threaten other things:

We have [been continually hovering] over the issue of the presidential election,” Saenuri Chairman Hwang Woo-yea, said. “We can’t do this anymore. We should move on to the politics for state affairs.”

update
Choe Sang-hun has added a related article, in the NY Times, about the Prosecutor’s Office raiding the South Korea’s Cyberwarfare Command on Tuesday due to four of its officials having posted political messages online last year:

Last week, opposition lawmakers alleged in the National Assembly that the military’s secretive Cyberwarfare Command had carried out a similar online campaign, separately or in coordination with the spy agency, to help sway public opinion in favor of Ms. Park before the Dec. 19 election. The Defense Ministry, On Tuesday, confirmed that four cyberwarfare officials had posted political messages, but it quoted them as saying they had acted on their own.

Of prosecutor Yoon, Choe notes that:

. . . Mr. Yoon was removed from the investigation last week after his team detained three intelligence agents and searched their homes. He said his team had collected more evidence of the spy agency’s online campaign: 55,700 messages, posted or reposted by intelligence agents, that praised Ms. Park or disparaged her opposition rivals ahead of the December election. One of them called Mr. Moon, the main opposition candidate, a “servant” of North Korea and Ahn Cheol-soo, an independent who supported Mr. Moon, “a woman in men’s clothes.”

As with Prosecutor General Chae, it seems that libel is an operational tactic for today’s leading political party, meanwhile Cho Young-Kon, head of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, yesterday submitted a request to the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office to investigate him after a junior prosecutor who worked for him (Yoon) dropped the bombshell revelation about the investigation of the National Intelligence Service’s alleged online smear campaign against the losing candidate in last December’s election. (cite)

How can there ever be an investigation, such as this, if the very parties that are under investigation are in control of the government!?  As said one senior prosecutor about this conflict of interest, “When an issue is politically sensitive, the leader of an investigation always clashes with a high-ranking prosecutor who cares about its political impact,” (cite)

Ding dong, the online real name system is dead

The Constitutional Court has ruled the online real name system unconstitutional:

As the AP reports, the law was introduced with the intention of reducing incidences of libel, false rumors and abusive comments. However, the Constitutional Court today said that there was no evidence that it had achieved those goals, and that a mandatory real-name policy undermines free speech and discourages people from voicing opinions for fear of punishment.

The law had proved unpopular in the country, and was easily circumvented. As AFP notes, many Internet users began using non-Korean services in order to continue using false IDs online. Google was among the supporters of this loophole. In 2009, it was reported that the Korean version of YouTube had uploading and commenting features removed, actively prompting users to log in to another country’s version of the service in order to get involved.

Probably a good thing, even if on a private level I’d strongly consider implementing a real-name system in my comment section if I could.

Move the UN headquarters to the DMZ

Huh, you ask? That’s right –  according to Reuters (January 19, 2012) South Korean presidential-hopeful Huh Kyung-young – the head of the Democratic Republican Party – wants to move the U.N. headquarters to the DMZ. 

“With the U.N. headquarters located in Korea, there would be no war on the Korean Peninsula. Then, I will unify the world and lead efforts to mediate between the global powers,” he said.

Of course this isn’t anything new, he suggested doing it back in 2007 but for different reasons:

If the UN HQ is moved to the Panmmunjon, 500 organizations will move with it, which means our economy will grow threefold.

But we know (or at least he thinks he does) he has the power to do it:

Like a light from the east, I have appeared for this era, and since I can see the future, I have planned my Internet strategy way back in the past. With my 430 IQ, I can also control the spiritual domain.

I have also read 35 religious scriptures from several religions, and concluded that they have no value. The religions have prepared for my coming and I’m the one who will complete them.

And

He claims to have an IQ of 430 and the ability to perform miracle cures.

“I can change 23 chromosomes and 40,000 DNA in the human body. If someone is diagnosed with uterine cancer, I can treat the cancer within 0.1 seconds just by looking into the patient’s eyes,” Huh said.

Yes, I know I repeated the IQ of 430 but who can’t be impressed by an IQ of 430?  I can fully understand your skepticism but did you know that  Michael Jackson, three days prior to his death, visited Huh in his dreams?  Not good enough? He was also able to control George W. Bush’s thinking. Did you know that (paraphrasing Min) the late President Park Chung-hee approved Huh’s marriage to Park Geun-hye and that it was Park’s dying wish to see them married and living in the Blue House?  Well, don’t feel bad if you didn’t know about the marriage because apparently she didn’t either and this landed Huh not in the Blue House but in jail after he was sued for libel.

One has to admire Huh’s determination (remember back in 2007 when Min predicted Huh would run in the 2012 election – uncanny) – after all, this is his fourth attempt but apparently this time he is going to use the Time Magazine Man of the Year approach:

[Huh] plans to launch a fan club to boost his chances in the polls and said he expects to attract a million members.

“Nowadays, I am so popular that I get several phone calls every second from my fans. I am thinking of reporting myself to Guinness World Records as the man who receives the largest number of phone calls in the world,” he said.

And if he wins “he will give newly-married couples 100 million won ($87,300) and hand 700,000 won to each pensioner.” 

It is going to be a great year for politics.

Not this guy again…

From the Chosun Ilbo:

An Internet user who gained notoriety by casting doubt on the academic credentials of rapper Tablo and is being sought by police for libel, has now turned his guns on the famous pop diva Insooni.

The user, who uses the ID “Whatbecomes,” is a Korean American surnamed Kim (59) and lives in Chicago. He reopened an online forum in October last year where people accused Tablo of faking his Stanford degree.

Something interesting about this. In the Tablo case, Korean police filed through Interpol a request that American authorities cooperate with them in the investigation of Kim, an American citizen, on charges of criminal defamation.

Could, or would, American authorities comply with such a request?

Koreans dropping dimes to make big bucks

It is no secret that many Koreans are struggling to make an honest living but did you know that there are some making a very decent living by reporting the dishonest?  According to Moon Seong-ok, the “executive managing director at the school, the future of citizen reporting looks bright as reward programs are continually being added by both the government and corporations.”

Currently there are 336 different infractions that citizens can report to both government agencies and corporations, offering up to 3 billion won.

Programs vary from reporting dropped cigarette butts and illegal trash disposal to unlicensed clinical practitioners and prostitution.

The over 7,000 graduates of Moon’s school cover the entire spectrum, from a couple who report litterers at highway rest stops, to people who stake out hospitals and catch perpetrators of health insurance fraud.

While some people may do it for a noble purpose – others are just out for the cash.

“The financial factor is definitely a big reason,” said Koh, who just enrolled at Moon’s school.

“I used to work at a corporation but with the economy I had to find another job, and with the resulting less amount of pay, I wanted to find something else that can meet my financial needs,” said the 38-year-old breadwinner for three.

What kind of money are we talking about?  One instructor interviewed for the article said she made more than 10 million won ($9,400) a month.

But there are dangers – including getting your butt beat by some of the wrong-doers. 

Adult video game parlors, usually gambling facilities run by crime gangs, are illegal, but can be extremely dangerous to paparazzi if caught by the wrong people during a sting.

According to Moon, the fact that police are sometimes found tipping off criminals motivates him to exclude officers from the equation and report parlors to higher authorities.

“We are doing what the police won’t, cut the problem at its roots,” said Moon.

Of course, being a tattle-taler – especially one that profits from it – isn’t always viewed by one’s neighbors in a favorable light.

“This job is not something that I can confidently tell others because society still doesn’t view this line of work very highly,” said Koh.

Many believe the system creates distrust among neighbors.

Several countries have citizen watch programs but perhaps the most infamous is the Inminban, a North Korean neighborhood snitch program where people are encouraged to report illicit behavior of people they know.

To be honest, I always wondered how this works in regards to the privacy laws.  It is my understanding (and I am probably wrong) that there are no private eyes in Korea because of the privacy factor.  We have all heard of the many shocking stories of people telling the truth and then being sued for it.  Apparently telling the truth is not a good defense against slander/libel.

You can read the rest of the article here (Korea Herald – July 15, 2011).

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