Prosecutor-General nominee Kim Jin-tae faces a tough parliamentary hearing next month as allegations surface about his personal wrongdoings and connection to the presidential chief of staff.
Since his nomination on Sunday, rumors rose that Kim engaged in real estate speculation and that his son was exempted from military service illegally ― two of the most potent attacks used by opposing forces to damage election campaigns and bring down minister-level nominees.
According to his assets report filed in March, Kim owns about 1,000 square meters of land in two separate plots in Yeosu, South Jeolla Province, while his wife holds more than 13,000 square meters of land in Gwangyang, South Jeolla Province.
For his part, Kim has simply said that there was “no problem” and that all allegations will be explained through the parliamentary hearing.
Kim is reported to have said that one of the Yeosu plots was purchased for his retirement, and that his wife gained ownership of her land in Gwangyang as payment for a loan on which her brother defaulted.
However, the concerned areas are said to have been targets for heavy real estate speculation, and Kim has no ties to the region.
Suspicions about the process through which Kim’s son was exempted from mandatory military service have also been raised.
According to reports, his son’s physical fitness was initially graded at three, but he was later exempted for nephritis, a kidney disorder a number of celebrities claimed to suffer from in order to avoid national service.
Men who receive grades between one and five are required to undertake national service.
In addition to the alleged irregularities in Kim’s personal life, opposition lawmakers are set to make an issue of Kim’s regional ties. Kim comes from South Gyeongsang Province, the traditional stronghold of the conservatives and the location of the hometown of presidential Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon. The chief of staff is reputed to be one of the most influential figures in the Park Geun-hye administration.
In the joint statement released on Monday, DP and Progressive Justice Party lawmakers on the parliamentary Legislation and Judiciary Committee raised concerns that a “political prosecution” was being revived and vowed a tough vetting process.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com