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[Newsmaker] Trial begins for ex-justice minister's wife

Court proceedings for recently resigned Justice Minister Cho Kuk’s family began Friday.

The trial preparation hearing for Cho’s wife, Chung Kyung-shim, 57, was held at the Seoul Central District Court at 11 a.m.

The pretrial hearing is intended to allow defendants to clarify their positions on the charges pressed against them. As defendants are not obliged to attend, Chung did not appear.
Seoul Central Disctrict Court (Yonhap)
Seoul Central Disctrict Court (Yonhap)

Chung, a professor at a private university, was indicted on Sept. 6 over charges of fabricating credentials for her daughter’s 2014 application to a medical school in Busan, where she enrolled the following year.

During the first official court session, Chung’s lawyers asked the prosecutors for access to the Cho family’s investigation memos. While prosecutors said the records of an ongoing probe are confidential, for concerns of evidence destruction and others, the court decided to permit Chung to read and make copies of the documents.

Chung had also previously requested the Friday hearing be delayed, but the court did not accede.

The pretrial hearing for Cho’s first cousin once removed, Cho Beom-dong, 36, is set for Oct. 25. The ex-minister’s relative is accused of embezzling 7.2 billion won out of a private equity fund Co-Link -- of which he has been identified as the de facto head – and other economic crimes. Prosecutors say Chung received part of the embezzled money.

Co-Link is the operator of Blue Core Value-Up 1, a fund in which Cho’s wife and their two children had invested in while he served as senior presidential secretary at Cheong Wa Dae in 2017. The company WFM, which Co-Link had acquired, saw a surge in sales following the Cho family’s investments, winning 117 government projects.

Cho stepped down from his cabinet post Monday.

By Kim Arin (