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Moon nominates justice minister, anti-corruption chief

President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday tapped a reformist scholar with a civic activism background to lead the Ministry of Justice and push one of his top priorities -- judicial reform.

Moon also named another law professor, Pak Un-jong, to lead the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission.

From left are Park Sang-ki, Pak Un-jong and Lee Jin-gyu (Yonhap)
From left are Park Sang-ki, Pak Un-jong and Lee Jin-gyu (Yonhap)

Park Sang-ki, the justice minister nominee, is a professor of law at Yonsei University and serves as a co-chair of the nongovernmental organization Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice. Park, who holds a doctorate in criminal law from the University of Gottingen in Germany, has also served as the head of the Korean Institute of Criminology.

“(Park) is a theorist and activist of reform of the judiciary who has worked in academia and civic society as well as on the scene of judicial administration,” presidential spokesman Park Soo-hyun said. The nominee’s ability to reform the country’s judicial branch, which has long been criticized for wielding too much power, was the foremost criteria in selecting him, added the spokesperson.

President Moon had initially nominated Ahn Kyong-whan, a professor emeritus of Seoul National University, for the post. However, Ahn withdrew from consideration after past wrongdoings were revealed, such as when he filed a marriage certificate without the knowledge of the woman concerned.

Regarding Cheong Wa Dae’s vetting process, which came under fire following Ahn’s fall from grace, Park Soo-hyun said that the presidential office had looked “as deeply as possible” into Moon’s recent picks and there was no additional information on the latest selections.

Pak, the ACRC chief nominee, is currently a professor at Seoul National University’s law school. Unlike the post of justice minister, the chief of the ACRC does not require a parliamentary confirmation hearing.

Along with the two law professors, the president named Lee Jin-gyu as the first Deputy Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning.

Lee is a career bureaucrat who has served in a number of key posts, including overseeing policies for research and development.

With the nomination of the new justice minister, the president has now named 16 members of his first Cabinet. The three yet to be nominated are the ministers of health and commerce and the inaugural chief of an envisioned new ministry for SMEs and ventures.

Seven of Moon’s picks have taken the oath of office. Nine others have yet to clear the parliamentary confirmation process. Among them, five will face confirmation hearings this week.

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