Novelist’s lone fight to save Cho Kuk
Gong Ji-young fires at prosecution, bickers with critics
Novelist Gong Ji-young has gone all out to defend embattled Justice Minister Cho Kuk who, together with his wife, son and daughter, are embroiled in multiple allegations, including forgery and violation of the stock market law prohibiting insider trading.
Gong described Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl, who has led the thorough investigation into the Cho family and ratcheted up pressure on the justice minister to step down for questioning, “a traitor” who turned his back on people who pinned high hopes that he would overhaul the prosecution.
She was aggressive toward anyone critical of the justice minister. The best-selling author lashed out at the liberal commentator Jin Joong-kwon, a Dong Yang University professor, for staying mum on “his friend in need” (Cho) and distancing himself from trouble for fear of fallout on his career.
The three — Gong, Cho and Jin — were iconic figures having openly sided with the liberal and progressive parties. Thus Gong’s attack on Jin was rare.
Gong portrayed Jin as an incompetent scholar who failed to obtain a doctoral degree in Germany, despite years of studying there. The novelist was also a maverick who pours out poignant remarks on certain issues but few people are listening, maybe because most of the time his opinions are biased and unconvincing.
In a media interview, Jin said he decided to quit his party membership because he was disappointed by the Justice Party and the way the minor party handled the “Cho Kuk issue.”
He didn’t give any further details, saying he was just sick and tired of the ways of the world.
The Justice Party has endorsed Cho Kuk as justice minister even after various allegations surfaced. The minor party suffered the fallout of its stalwart support of Cho. A recent Gallup poll found support for the Justice Party has slid dramatically, dropping it behind the conservative minor Bareunmirae Party.
Gong alleged Jin is a man who would do anything to succeed.
“I thought he could even join the conservative Liberty Korea Party, which we hate, if he is offered money and power,” she wrote. “In the past he used to call (the justice minister) ‘my Kuk’ on social media. So I thought he would have said something for his friend in need but didn’t.”
Gong extended her targets to the overall “anti-Cho Kuk forces.” On Monday, she threatened to unsubscribe from the liberal Hankyoreh Daily newspaper over their news reports that are critical of the justice minister. She posted a link to a Hankyoreh column and wrote, “I quit the newspaper and will do without it until the media painfully repents what it did.”
Gong, meanwhile, was emotional about Cho supporters.
She tweeted on Tuesday that she was impressed by the dedicated Cho supporters for their successful campaign to get the “We are Cho Kuk” motto into the top 3 most searched terms on the nation’s largest internet portal Naver. “After I woke up, I prayed as I was nervous and then turned on the computer to go onto (the internet)… It made it overnight. We Koreans are fascinating! Good morning to you, great people,” she tweeted in a post uploaded early in the morning.
Her tweets came a day after she criticized the prosecution for searching the justice minister’s home to find evidence of his or his family’s involvement in irregularities.
The novelist said prosecutors searched nearly 70 places as of Monday but no smoking gun was found. Gong went on to say that the prosecution is victimizing the innocent man, saying if it were her, she would have felt the urge to commit suicide because of the pressure.
Her overly sympathetic reactions to Justice Minister Cho raised the eyebrows of others.
In the comments to the article about Gong’s tweets, one internet user wrote “Please stop. You make me sick.” It had over 3,500 likes and 780 dislikes. Another internet user called Gong a Cho fanatic.
Gong is an outspoken critic of conservative politicians.
Debuting as a novelist in 1988 through a fiction novel “Dawn” based on her real story, Gong was a popular author in the 1990s. In 1994, three of her works — “Mackere,” “Go Alone like a Rhino Horn,” and “Courteous to Human” — made the top 10 best-selling books list. She was one of the most in demand authors at that time.
She released her new novel, “Harry,” in July. During a news conference for the book, Gong said her new book is about a wicked woman in the guise of a liberal.
Novelist Gong Ji-young answers questions at a press conference on her new book “Harry” at the Press Center in central Seoul in this July 30 file photo.