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International Periscope and Perspectives

/ Source: Newsweek International

South Korea: Roh Let the Dogs Out | Middle East: New Day, New Deal? | Intelligence: Cheney Charges | Media: Who’s the Most Biased? A Surprising Answer. | Movies: The Face Behind the Painting | Books: Not Fond Memories | Q&A: Jason Priestley | Perspectives


Roh Let the Dogs Out

Roh Moo Hyun rode into South Korea’s presidency in late 2002 on a pledge to clean up politics, and he kick-started a probe into illegal campaign financing. Now that probe threatens his own presidency. And it is the country’s prosecutors who are emerging as Korea’s new heroes.

Last week’s events were just the latest setback for the president. A Roh golfing buddy, Kang Geum Won, the chairman of the Changshin Textile Co., was arrested for allegedly embezzling some $4 million from his company’s kitty and evading $1 million in corporate taxes. Luckily for Roh, he’s not the only one in the spotlight. Opposition lawmakers have been targeted, too, and last Friday prosecutors sought arrest warrants for two members of the opposition on charges of accepting bribes.

Gone are the days when South Korea’s national prosecutors were famous only for being easily manipulated. “Young prosecutors don’t care who they help or hurt, and if someone tries to influence them from above, it backfires,” says one midcareer prosecutor. “They are like loose cannons.” Perhaps, but the public is on their side. Consider senior prosecutor Ahn Dae Hee. He has been dubbed “Cool Ahn” by supporters, and even has his own fan club. Roh could only wish for the same.

—George Wehrfritz and B. J. Lee