Yoon Seok-youl, a well-known prosecutor who participated in major investigations linked to conservative administrations, was tapped for the post of prosecutor general Monday.
If appointed, he will replace Moon Moo-il as the country’s top prosecutor.
Yoon, currently serves as the head of Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, and came to public attention in 2012 when he headed the investigation into allegations that the National Intelligence Service interfered with the presidential election.
Prosecutor-general nominee Yoon Seok-youl (Yonhap)
At the time, it was alleged that the NIS ran an online campaign to sway public opinion in favor of former President Park Geun-hye’s campaign. The investigation is said to have caused friction between Yoon and the administration, leading to his transfer to a sub-branch of the Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office.
In late 2016, he took part in the independent counsel investigation into allegations surrounding Park and her alleged confidante Choi Soon-sil.
A prosecutor general nominee is required to undergo a parliamentary confirmation hearing, but approval is not required for appointment.
“(Yoon has) fought against corruption while working as a prosecutor, and showed strength to withstand outside influence,” Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Ko Min-jung said in announcing the nomination. She added that Yoon has won public trust and from prosecutors for his investigations into corruption scandals of past administrations.
“It is hoped that Yoon will root out corruption and illegalities that still remain in society, and at the same time successfully carry out prosecution reforms.”
Yoon, declined to respond to questions from the media, saying simply that he feels a “heavy responsibility” and that he will make necessary preparations.
He refused to comment on the revision of investigative rights of police and the prosecution, and plans to establish an independent body for investigating allegations against high-level government officials.
The controversial issue of revising investigative rights and proposed independent investigative body are at the center of prosecution reform plans.
The Liberty Korea Party immediately criticized the decision, saying that Yoon is “Moon Jae-in’s man” following his investigations regarding opposition figures.
Under his watch, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office investigated former President Lee Myung-bak and former Supreme Court chief Yang Sung-take, both of whom have been indicted on corruption charges.
“The political neutrality of the prosecution and independence of (their) investigations are long gone,” Liberty Korea Party spokesman Rep. Min Kyung-wook said, claiming that the prosecution has been “dancing to Cheong Wa Dae’s orders” since President Moon took office.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com