President Moon Jae-in on Monday urged the National Assembly to process bills concerning the reform of the public prosecutors’ office.
Speaking at a weekly meeting with his top aides, Moon said the public is calling for prosecution reform, despite holding differing views on related issues.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (Yonhap)
“Even among the various opinions, the will of the people that comes together is that the need for prosecution reform is as urgent as guaranteeing the prosecution’s political neutrality,” Moon said, referring to recent protests centered on Minister of Justice Cho Kuk.
“Both the government and the National Assembly must pay heed to this voice. I request the National Assembly to quickly process bills related to prosecution reform.”
Among the proposed bills, some would see the establishment of a new independent body to investigate high-level government officials implicated in crimes, and some would readjust the investigative authorities of the police and the prosecution.
Moon went on to call on the Ministry of Justice and the prosecutors’ office to speed up the reform process. In an apparent message to the chiefs of the two organizations, Moon added that they were “one body” in a larger scale of state affairs.
Cho is embroiled in a series of allegations involving his immediate family and associates including his wife, Chung Kyung-shim. Chung is suspected of a number of misdeeds, including forging documents to aid her daughter’s academic career.
Prosecutor-General Yoon Seok-youl, meanwhile, has been accused by Cho’s supporters of conducting a politically motivated investigation in an attempt to hamper Cho’s prosecutorial reform efforts.
Allegations and developments surrounding Cho have sparked massive demonstrations both by supporters and detractors. The ruling Democratic Party and the opposition bloc have also joined the fray, disrupting parliamentary business.
The fallout from Cho’s appointment has also dented Moon’s approval rating, bringing it down to 44.4 percent -- the lowest level so far in his term -- according to a poll conducted by Realmeter.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)