|Rep. Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party addresses the press before participating in the parliamentary audit held at the National Assembly on Wednesday. (Yonhap News)|
The row over alleged irregularities in the prosecution’s probe into the National Intelligence Service is threatening to escalate into full-blown war between the two main political parties over the legitimacy of last year’s presidential election.
Following testimony from Yoon Seok-yeol at the parliamentary audit of the prosecution, voices questioning the legitimacy of last year’s presidential election have risen within the main opposition Democratic Party.
Yoon is the head of the prosecutors’ office for Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province, who had headed the NIS probe until he was removed for alleged insubordination.
Yoon allegedly ignored protocol in arresting NIS agents and changing the arraignment notice regarding the case.
Yoon, however, claimed that Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office chief Cho Young-gon was fully briefed. Yoon also claims that the probe is being hampered by pressure from Cho and that higher ranking officials, including Justice Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, would prevent a fair investigation.
Cho has also denied all allegations against him, and the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office has since launched an audit into the claims.
While the DP’s official position is that the party does not contest the election results, comments from DP members are hinting otherwise.
Rep. Moon Jae-in, who ran for presidency for the DP, called for the president to address the situation.
Saying that election interference by the military had not been seen since the end of military regimes, Moon said that the NIS needed reform and that Park could not stand apart from the developments any longer.
“Last year’s presidential election was unfair. Whether she knew it or not, the beneficiary is President Park Geun-hye,” Moon said in a statement. Saying that the president should face the facts, Moon added that she should take steps to resolve the “crisis of democracy.”
“(I) call on the president to clearly show her intent to solve the problem, and to take immediate action.”
The DP’s Rep. Sul Hoon said Tuesday that the presidential election was a “serious injustice” and that the legitimacy of the result needed to be reconsidered.
Former DP floor leader Rep. Park Jie-won appeared to be in support of denying the outcome of the election saying that “serious considerations” were needed. While Park Jie-won explained that his meaning was that those responsible must be punished, other DP members appear ready to take the issue further.
“There is no need to fear that pointing out what is right may be taken as refuting the presidential election,” DP senior advisor
Chung Se-kyun wrote on his Twitter account.
Despite the mixed bag of comments that leave room for interpretation, DP’s chairman Rep. Kim Han-gil denied the ruling party’s accusations saying that the party is calling for steps to prevent recurrence of election interference from government organizations.
Kim’s statements, however, has not appeased the ruling party which for its part is pressing the attack to push the DP further into a corner.
“The DP’s hidden desire to refute the result of the presidential election is being revealed for the world to see,” Saenuri Party floor leader Rep. Choi Kyung-hwan said at the party’s senior lawmakers’ meeting on Wednesday.
Saying that all political actions the DP has taken in recent months were part of its “fight to refute the presidential election,” Choi called on the main opposition to move on and engage in “politics aimed at the future.”
“(The DP) says that it is not refuting of the election, but no citizen would believe that judging by their actions and words.”
Choi also attacked the opposition for focusing on the online comments, saying that the election result could not have been influenced by “extremely small amount of online comments.”
According to Choi, 55,000 comments are equivalent to 0.02 percent of Twitter comments generated in Korea in a four-month period. The NIS probe team directed by Yoon considered that NIS agents had made 55,000 election-related tweets.
The dispute is also being rekindled by fresh allegations.
On Wednesday, it was alleged that the Ministry of Justice requested the prosecution’s probe team to reduce the number of Twitter accounts information regarding which will be requested from the social networking service’s U.S. headquarters.
In addition, it was revealed that the military’s Cyber Command and the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs may have also attempted to influence public opinion in the run up to last year’s election.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org