(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on May 22)

President Yoon Suk Yeol on Tuesday vetoed a legislative motion to appoint a special prosecutor to look into the suspicion over the presidential office wielding pressure on the Marine Corps' investigation into the suspicious death of a Marine on a rescue mission. The motion on a special investigation of the case was unilaterally passed by the opposition, including the majority Democratic Party (DP), in a plenary session of the National Assembly on May 2. In a press conference a week later, President Yoon hinted at the possibility of vetoing the motion. The president's latest veto is the tenth of its kind since his inauguration in May 2022. But the results of a joint poll released earlier this month show 67 percent supporting the special investigation with 19 percent opposing it. Such high public endorsement helped the opposition push for the passage of the special bill. The Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials (CIO), an extraordinary law enforcement authority, launched its investigation in January, but made little progress since. The president's exercise of his veto power seems unavoidable. A special prosecutor is appointed when the results of investigations by existing law enforcement agencies stop short of public expectations or when the independence and fairness of their investigation cannot be trusted. But the CIO's investigation has gained traction, as seen in its recent summoning of the commander of the Marine Corps and the chief investigator from the Corps for a thorough investigation of their possible involvement in the case. Fortunately, a new head of the CIO also has been appointed. At the current pace, it would be better to wait for the results of the CIO's investigation than appointing a special prosecutor. The CIO was launched by the DP to check the prosecution during the Moon Jae-in administration. President Yoon now has no means to influence the CIO's probe, while the CIO has no reason to follow what the president says. The DP's call for a special prosecutor under such circu mstances constitutes an act of self-contradiction. If there is a need for a special prosecutor later, both the DP and the governing People Power Party can pass a special bill in a bipartisan manner. The special motion by the DP mandates the president to select one of the two candidates picked by the party among four candidates recommended by the Korean Bar Association. Such bias will prompt controversy over impartiality. Only when the two parties appoint a special prosecutor in a fair way, investigation results will not be swayed. President Yoon pledged to push for a special prosecutor on his own if any doubts linger over the CIO's investigations. We must watch its investigation first. Source: Yonhap News Agency