[Newsmaker] Moon names nominee for new prosecutor-general

By Ock Hyun-ju
  • Published : Jul 4, 2017 - 18:41
  • Updated : Jul 5, 2017 - 09:28
President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday nominated an incumbent prosecutor as the country’s top prosecutor, completing the lineup to push for making the prosecution more transparent and politically neutral.

Prosecutir-General nominee Moon Moo-il (Yonhap)

Moon Moo-il, the incumbent head of the Busan High Prosecutors’ Office, has been designated for the prosecutor-general post, which has been left vacant for nearly two months, to lead the reform of the prosecution as well as stabilize the law enforcement body.

“We think that Moon is the right person to live up to the public demand to root out corruption, as he has a reputation of strictly dealing with large-scale corruption cases based on law and principles,” presidential spokesperson Park Soo-hyun said.

“It is expected that Moon will excellently perform his duty to reform the prosecution and promptly stabilize the law enforcement body.”

Moon, 55, began his career as a state prosecutor in 1989, three years after passing the national bar exam. Born in Gwangju, he graduated from Seoul’s Korea University with a bachelor’s degree in law.

He took the lead in probing high-profile cases, including the graft scandal involving the deceased business tycoon Sung Woan-jong and several lawmakers close to former President Park Geun-hye. The scandal led to the indictments of former Prime Minister Lee Wan-koo and Hong Joon-pyo, who was then South Gyeongsang Province governor and now heads the right-wing Liberty Korea Party. He also investigated corruption allegations surrounding former President Roh Moo-hyun in 2003.

The prosecutor-general nominee must undergo a parliamentary confirmation hearing within 20 days, but the appointment does not require parliamentary approval.

“I feel grave responsibility as a prosecutor-general nominee at such a critical moment. I will reflect on what the public wants, what those working in the criminal law sector think and what the country hopes to see,” Moon said.

If appointed as the chief prosecutor, Moon faces the daunting task of overhauling the state prosecution, which has been criticized for being politically biased and holding too much power with its exclusive rights to indict.

Public distrust of the prosecution hit a tipping point in the wake of the corruption scandal involving Park. It was criticized for being lukewarm in investigating cases related to ranking officials under the Park administration and being politicized in favor of the government.

The appointment is in line with President Moon’s personnel choices for posts related to revamping the nation’s law enforcement system to free it from political pressure.

For justice minister, President Moon picked reformist law professor Park Sang-ki who has campaigned for major reform of the prosecution. He is set to go through a confirmation hearing.

For the job of presidential civil affairs secretary, who oversees and prevents corruption in the prosecution, Cho Kuk, a reformist scholar, was appointed.

President Moon named Yoon Seok-yeol, who played a key role in investigating the corruption scandal involving former President Park and her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil, to head the biggest prosecution body, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office.

As part of efforts to revamp the prosecution, Moon said that he would create a body with independent power to investigate and indict high-ranking officials involved in corruption in the judiciary and civil service. He also said he would give the police more power for investigation so that the prosecution and police can keep each other in check.

By Ock Hyun-ju (