The post of national police chief has been replaced nearly four months after the April 16 ferry sinking disaster, which could also put pressure on the incumbent prosecutor general to resign.
President Park Geun-hye on Wednesday named Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency chief Kang Sin-myeong, 50, as the nation’s 19th commissioner of the National Police Agency.
The appointment came a day after Lee Sung-han, who had led the investigation into the Sewol ferry accident, offered to step down from the post.
While Kang is scheduled to undergo a confirmation hearing at the National Assembly, lawmakers are not entitled to block the presidential office’s appointment of police chief.
|National Police Agency chief nominee Kang Sin-myeong|
“The police have faced a crisis in the aspect of gaining public trust. (I) will do my best in recovering the public trust as soon as possible by revamping the internal structure,” nominee Kang told reporters.
Kang is to be the first graduate of the Korean National Police University to become the nation’s police chief.
Born in Hapcheon, South Gyeongsang Province, in 1964, Kang has worked for the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency since December 2013. He earlier served as a presidential secretary for social security affairs from March 2013 to December 2013.
On July 24, or two days after police confirmed the death of the Sewol ferry owner and then-fugitive Yoo Byung-eun, Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office then-head Choi Jae-kyung tendered his resignation.
Lawmakers say that high-ranking law enforcement officials ― aside from the outgoing police chief and Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office chief ― should also be held accountable.
Some observers predict that Prosecutor General Kim Jin-tae could be the next to quit for failing to capture Yoo Byung-eun alive.
The prosecution has been denounced for declining to share intelligence with the police agency in its investigation into the Sewol sinking case and tracing Yoo’s family.
Some lawyers and profilers say that the prosecution eventually caused a failure in its nationwide manhunt for Yoo. They cited lack of investigative manpower in the prosecution and low-key tracing without informing the police of its internal intelligence.
Meanwhile, during a meeting of the National Assembly’s legislation committee in late July, Minister of Justice Hwang Kyo-ahn apologized to the public for failing to arrest Yoo alive.
Critics claim that Hwang should also quit along with prosecutor general Kim.
By Kim Yon-se (firstname.lastname@example.org)