Published : 2013-09-29 19:36
Updated : 2013-09-29 19:36
President Park Geun-hye accepted a resignation offer from Prosecutor General Chae Dong-wook on Saturday, more than two weeks after he tendered it. She has yet to accept the resignation of Minister of Health and Welfare Chin Young, who tendered his resignation on Wednesday, only to be asked to remain in the post, and offered to resign again on Friday.
The wishes of a public officeholder should be respected if he submits a letter of resignation. The president and others in charge may call on him to remain at his post. But they should let him go if he is firm in his decision to quit.
Yet, President Park sat on the offers to resign from the prosecutor general and the health and welfare minister. No other explanation is as plausible as her desire to avoid embarrassment and mortification.
Chae offered to resign on Sept. 13, a week after the Chosun Ilbo reported that he fathered a boy in an extramarital affair in 2002. The prosecutor general, who denied the allegation, tendered his resignation when the Ministry of Justice decided to start an official investigation into the case.
The prosecutor general had apparently fallen out of favor with President Park when he had earlier prosecuted the former director of the intelligence service against the wishes of the powers that be. The director had been charged with ordering his spy agency to smear the opposition candidate’s image during the run-up to the December presidential election.
Oppositionists had claimed that the ruling elite conspired with the conservative daily to oust Chae from his post. The Ministry of Justice, as their theory went, launched a formal investigation against him when he refused to resign. Later, he said, he had no other option than to resign, saying that the investigation made it impossible to carry out his duties properly.
On Friday, the ministry claimed that the materials and statements it had collected were convincing enough to believe that the love child allegation was true. Contrary to its claim, it failed to present any convincing evidence. The next day, President Park accepted Chae’s offer to resign.
Chin’s case, though different, is nonetheless embarrassing and mortifying. The health and welfare minister, one of President Park’s protgs, said he would resign on Sept. 22 when the president was reported to be considering scaling back her plan to provide all people aged 65 or older with basic pension benefits. He submitted a letter of resignation, apparently in protest, on Wednesday only to see it returned immediately.
Chin sent the letter again on Friday. Park appears to have no other option than to let him quit, no matter how humiliating it may be to her.