Political strife escalated during the weekend over the prosecution’s probe into the National Intelligence Service’s alleged meddling in last year’s presidential election.
The main opposition Democratic Party stepped up its attack on the Park Geun-hye administration, accusing it of attempting to politically influence the prosecution and whitewash the ongoing investigation.
The allegations are boiling over into a dispute over the legitimacy of the election. The NIS and the military’s Cyber Warfare Command are accused of posting negative comments in favor of then-presidential candidate Park Geun-hye of the ruling Saenuri Party.
On Saturday, the DP’s former presidential candidate Rep. Moon Jae-in demanded President Park apologize and take steps to resolve the continuing political standoff
“I think it is the president’s turn to respond,” Moon said during a by-election campaign tour held at Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, on Saturday. Moon has been raising his voice after fresh allegations were raised against the NIS and the military last week.
Moon previously said that the election was “unfair” and Park definitely benefited from the illegal campaigns of state agencies.
The Saenuri Party, meanwhile, countered the attack by accusing Moon and DP for defying the election results. In tit-for-tat move, the ruling party condemned Moon who served as chief of staff during the Roh Moo-hyun administration, saying that he must apologize first over the missing inter-Korean summit transcript that purportedly contains Roh’s controversial remark that conceded the Northern Limit Line in the West Sea to Pyongyang.
“(Moon) should explain before the prosecution about the transcript that went on missing and uncover the truth, rather than (spending his time) on election campaigning in Hwaseong,” said Saenuri spokeswoman Kang Eun-hee on Saturday.
Meanwhile, a coalition of 288 progressive civic groups held a candlelight rally on Saturday to protest against the NIS and the military’s cyber warfare unit accused of posting negative comments on Moon.
Protestors demanded a parliamentary probe as well as establishing an independent counsel team to investigate into the alleged online smear campaign. They also lashed out the government for demoting a key prosecutor who has been spearheading the ongoing NIS probe.
Amid growing controversy over allegations that the government has interfered with NIS investigation, the prosecution on Saturday named Chung Jin-woo, a senior prosecutor specialized in state security, as the head of the NIS probe team. Chung, 41, replaces Yoon Seok-ryeol, who was previously in charge of the team but was moved to a regional office, for arresting NIS agents without obtaining prior permission.
Yoon in the parliamentary audit last week, claimed that he had to do so, because not only his seniors but also justice minister attempted to scale down his team’s investigation.
DP chairman on Sunday slammed the government that its appointment of chief investigator at the NIS probe team indicates its attempt to increase its control over the ongoing investigation.
By Cho Chung-un (firstname.lastname@example.org