Novelist’s lone fight to save Cho Kuk

Gong Ji-young fires at pros­e­cu­tion, bick­ers with crit­ics

The Korea Times - - CULTURE - By Kang Hyun-kyung [email protected]­re­

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.

Korea Times file

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.

Jin Joong-kwon

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