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One and only drinking occasion of impeachment trial judges

One and only drinking occasion of impeachment trial judges

Posted March. 13, 2017 07:54,   

Updated March. 13, 2017 08:08


“Please, mind your manners. You don’t dare to say ‘chief spokesmen’ here. You are going too far.”

At the 16th hearing of the impeachment trial of former President Park Geun-hye on Feb. 22, Acting Chief Justice Lee Jung-mi sharply rebuked Kim Pyeong-woo, Park’s defense lawyer, which was the first time that she has raised her voice. When Kim bluntly told Justice Kang Il-won, “You are just a chief representative of a claimant (impeachment committee of the National Assembly), not a judge,” Lee immediately fired back. “No, I’m not going too far,” Kim retorted and Lee continued the hearing with her hand on the neck. She seemed to be under stress.

In the night of the day, the eight judges including Chief Kang gathered all together for drinks at a restaurant near the Constitutional Court. That was the first and the last time that the full bench has gathered for drinks since the impeachment resolution was fired to the Court on Dec. 9 last year. The occasion was decided at the last minute to offer consolation to the acting chief justice who made a confrontation to Park's lawyer Kim and Justice Kang who became the target of Kim's blunt defense.

That was not the only purpose of the gathering in the night. The eight judges shared burden that was placed on their shoulders in deciding whether to dismiss the incumbent president, discussing difficulties they had. “I wish I could resign and drop out of the impeachment committee. I just can’t do so,” one of the judges is said to have lamented. “This should have been resolved in the political community,” another judge is said to have expressed his sympathy. “I feel really heavy-hearted to have been assigned such an important judgment immediately after the one for disbanding the Unified Progressive Party,” other judges are said to have empathized.

Seok-Jun Bae eulius@donga.com