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[Newsmaker] P.M. nominee vetting 2-edged sword for DUP

Chung Hong-won. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)
Chung Hong-won. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)
Former prosecutor Chung Hong-won is center stage in the country’s political arena as interest mounts as to whether President-elect Park Geun-hye’s second prime ministerial nominee will bear up under scrutiny.

Kim is a life-long law professional who began his career in 1972. Chung went on to rise to the highest level within the public prosecutors’ office, and in 2004 opened a law firm.

In the same year he was appointed a National Election Commission committee member, and from 2008 and 2011 he served as the head of the Korea Legal Aid Corp.

As expected, the main opposition Democratic United Party is promising a tough vetting process and both it and the ruling Saenuri Party have named the line up for the confirmation hearing committee.

The potentially problematic points in Chung’s record include his son’s exemption from national military service, and the lawyer’s past ties to the ruling party.

According to Chung, his only son was judged unfit for national service due to spinal disc herniation in 2001 according to regulations. In 1997, Chung’s son was categorized for active service.

At the time of the second assessment, Chung’s son was studying for a doctorate at Seoul National University. The prime ministerial nominee’s son later went on to pass the national judiciary exam and currently serves as a public prosecutor in South Gyeongsang Province.

In the run up to the April 11 general elections last year, Chung served as the Saenuri Party’s election nomination chief while Park held the chair of the party’s emergency steering committee.

While the Saenuri Party highlighted the fact as speaking to Chung’s upright character, the DUP raised concerns that the connection with Park could affect Chung’s ability to fulfill the duties of the prime minister.

As such, the DUP has promised a thorough vetting process to look into Chung’s capabilities as well as ethicality, saying that the process would not be a simple formality.

However, developments surrounding Kim Yong-joon and Lee Dong-heub are said to be feeding concerns that the party could be accused of intentionally hampering a smooth launch of the Park Geun-hye administration within the DUP. Kim is the transition committee chief who forfeited the prime ministerial nomination, and Lee is the Constitutional Court presidential nominee, whose parliamentary approval process has been stalled without approval from the parliamentary confirmation hearing committee.

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)
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