(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on May 23)

President Yoon Suk Yeol has sparked a major controversy by vetoing a motion to appoint a special counsel to investigate the death of a Marine involved in a rescue mission. The presidential veto came 19 days after the opposition-initiated motion was approved by the National Assembly, marking the 10th time Yoon has exercised this power since taking office. Yoon's recent move has drastically escalated tensions with the opposition bloc, which is now poised to use all possible means, including the potential impeachment of the president. The opposition parties, led by the Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), plan to hold a massive outdoor rally on Saturday, vowing to push for a revote on the motion. The presidential office opposes the special counsel, citing the ongoing investigation by the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials (CIO). Presidential Chief of Staff Chung Jin-suk argued that the special probe should not precede the CIO's investigation, suggesting it would only be necessary if the CIO 's findings prove to be flawed. However, the presidential office's stance seems implausible, considering the CIO's limited investigative capabilities. Concerns loom over potential delays and the possibility of results sparking a fierce backlash. Most significantly, various surveys indicate that more than two-thirds of the public support invoking a special counsel investigation. Public suspicion has been mounting over the possibility of external pressure influencing the investigation into the Marine's death. Several questionable incidents occurred during the transfer of the investigation results to the police. Yoon invited further suspicion by appointing then-Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup as the ambassador to Australia, even though he was under investigation by the CIO. A central issue is the allegation that the president "expressed furious anger" when briefed on the probe. Yoon also fueled suspicion by stating during a press conference, "I scolded the defense minister only when I heard of the accident." T he opposition is intensifying its attacks on Yoon, describing his recent veto as being unconstitutional and constituting grounds for impeachment. The DPK and other minor parties aim to conduct a revote on the bill during a plenary session next week. Yet, they face the challenge of securing an additional 17 votes for approval. The passage of the bill remains uncertain, hinging on potential defections from the ruling People Power Party (PPP). Rejection of the bill could set a precedent for similar practices in the forthcoming 22nd National Assembly, characterized by unilateral passages of bills by the opposition, followed by presidential vetoes. Yoon should have offered an explanation regarding the allegations surrounding himself to alleviate the public's suspicions. Remaining silent, he cannot anticipate public understanding. Yoon's complaint that the motion infringes the principle of the separation of powers because he cannot appoint the special attorney lacks merit. The motion is aimed at investigating irre gularities involving Yoon. The bill was inevitable due to Yoon losing the public's trust, rendering it inappropriate for him to appoint the attorney. The presidential office blamed the opposition parties for the unilateral passage. Yet, it was the PPP that postponed the related discussion. It is improper for Yoon and the presidential office to shift the blame onto the opposition after contributing to the current situation. The presidential office emphasized the role of the president as the "guardian of the Constitution," claiming that Yoon was fulfilling his duty by vetoing the bill. Yet, according to the Constitution, the president's primary mandate is to protect the life and safety of the people. Yoon should have made efforts to clarify the incident. With the matter now before the National Assembly, it falls upon lawmakers to exercise prudent judgment and make a thoughtful decision. Yoon, along with both the ruling and opposition parties, should pursue nuanced approaches to prevent the recent case from e scalating confrontation and distrust. In doing so, they can prevent further confusion and uncertainty, ultimately benefiting the nation as a whole. It is crucial for them to remember that the people will closely monitor whether their actions are motivated by the nation's welfare and the interests of its citizens.