A sex scandal is shaking the prosecution to its foundations.
A 30-year-old law school graduate, who was a trainee in the Seoul Eastern District Prosecutor's Office, engaged in sexual acts twice and sexual intercourse once with a 43-year-old female accused of shoplifting.
The prosecution asked for an arrest warrant against the trainee prosecutor "on heat" on charges of "receiving bribes." Yes, the prosecution stated the incident concerning one of their own was a case of bribery.
Prosecutors cited precedents but this triggered a big public outcry.
First of all, their logic was typically self-protective at the cost of basic human rights.
Charging someone for receiving bribes means that there is another party that breaks the law by offering them and is also subject to punishment.
In other words, the prosecution's argument is equal to saying that the suspect had enticed the prosecutor into having a sex in order to get away with her crime. Flip it up and it could, by a little stretch of the imagination, mean that the prosecutor was an innocent child lured by an evil seductress.
At least, the court appeared to retain a sense of sanity when it rejected the requested arrest warrant for the trainee.
The court's action appears to be a dismissal of the prosecution's legal interpretation, reflecting public sentiment and giving the prosecution a public dressing-down. Now, the ball is back with the prosecution, forcing it to find new legal grounds.
The bribery charges, as a Korean saying goes, would make a stray dog laugh for its lack of jurisprudence and abundance of absurdity.
A prosecutor is something close to a god to a criminal suspect, being able to determine the level of the penalty as well as to determine whether to pursue a case for a guilty verdict.
Let's throw into the mix a couple of other circumstantial factors ― the suspect is a woman and the two were alone in the prosecutor's office. To say the least, it was equally plausible to think that the prosecutor forced sex on the suspect and the prosecution was negligent not to take this scenario seriously enough and chose a self-serving option on the basis of its elitist sense of infallibility.
That sense of superiority stems from the fact that the prosecutors have been among the chosen few, who when passing the bar exam are considered to have a ticket to a vertical trip in social status. But how would senior officials feel about the troubled prosecutor being a law school graduate, a new breed that are now joining the prosecution as its rank-and-file members?
The prosecution can't remain isolated from the vortex of change taking place outside its tower of power.
In connection with the sex scandal, however, there are a couple of other things worthy of attention.
First, aren't prosecutors required to keep their conversations with suspects recorded or videotaped?
If they are not, the latest case should make it a part of standing procedure not just for the victims but also for that of the interrogating prosecutors and investigators.
Plus, it is absurd not to prevent the prosecutor from having time alone with the suspect. Even in a neighborhood OB/GYN clinic, a nurse is on standby with a doctor who treats women. Can the prosecutors be better trusted than doctors? Obviously not.
If the two's conversation was taped, either party would have had a preventative effect as well as making it easier to determine who was telling the truth.
Secondly, a stringent psychological aptitude test should be administrated upon prosecutor-wannabes.
Even if, as the prosecution claimed, the prosecutor trainee was seduced by the suspect, it still raises questions about his ability to make a critical judgment, while maintaining a sense of fairness.
At a deeper level, what caused the 30-year-old guy to be attracted to a woman who was 13 years older than him?
Was he a victim of child abuse or deprived of motherly care?
Did he watch too many American cable dramas that got him obsessed with sexual acts?
What aroused his sexual drive? Did the suspect make a Sharon Stone-move?
Did the prosecutor have a fetish of some kind?
The trainee prosecutor's sex scandal is just a tip of an iceberg that conceals problems facing the prosecution.
Prosecutor General Han Sang-dae is facing allegations that he intervened to make a case prosecutor demand a lighter sentence for a conglomerate chief being tried on charges of breach of trust and embezzlement. Now, the chief prosecutor is under growing pressure to step down.
A senior prosecutor has been arrested for receiving big bribes from a swindler. The swindler pulled off Korea's biggest Ponzi scam, estimated at 3.5 trillion won in damages. The prosecutor allegedly helped the fugitive flee to China. Lately, a rumor has it that the swindler faked his own death and is still living in China.
All these affairs show that the prosecution, once considered the fountain of power, is not adjusting to the changing times.
In the past, it had been criticized for colluding with those in power, earning the nickname "the handmaiden of those in power."
The three cases, however, have relegated the image of the prosecution to that of ordinary criminals.
What a major reversal of roles! Of course, it is not about one form of crime being worse than another.
An all-powerful organization that has metamorphosed in numerous power transitions and thrived has now been finally caught up by the times and pressed to choose between the status quo and change.
Back to the young prosecutor's sexual escapade, what did Mr. Strangelove think, letting himself indulge in forbidden love? Did he tell himself, "How I learned to stop worrying and love the lady."