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Justice minister nominee vows to push ahead with prosecution reform

Justice minister nominee Choo Mi-ae on Monday pledged a swift and thorough implementation of prosecution reform, one of the most controversial reform initiatives of President Moon Jae-in and his ruling Democratic Party.

Justice minister nominee Choo Mi-ae (Yonhap)
Justice minister nominee Choo Mi-ae (Yonhap)

Speaking at her parliamentary confirmation hearing, Choo, a five-term ruling Democratic Party lawmaker and former judge, expressed her support for an envisioned independent investigation body to probe corruption of senior government officials, including the president, public prosecutors and lawmakers. 

“I will do my best to swiftly take necessary follow-up steps and ensure effective implementation of the reform,” Choo said.

President Moon named the judge-turned-politician on Dec. 5 to succeed Cho Kuk, who stepped down in October amid the prosecution’s probe into corruption allegations surrounding him and his family.

“A controversy over fairness of the prosecution’s investigation has divided the people and aggravated social uneasiness,” Choo said. “We need to thoroughly reflect on ourselves and start afresh to become a ministry and prosecution that meet people’s expectations,” she said.

Choo stressed the need to distribute power concentrated on the prosecution in the law enforcement system and make the Justice Ministry less influenced by prosecutors by filling key positions in the ministry with those with expertise. The high-ranking positions in the ministry have so far been filled by prosecutors. 

The Democratic Party lawmakers argued that Choo is the right person to complete the mission of overhauling the prosecution, while the Liberty Korea Party lawmakers focused their questions on alleged irregularities by her. 

The opposition party lawmakers alleged that Choo had spent about 100 million won ($86,560) from political funds to publish her own book. After the deal was canceled, she was refunded the money, which the lawmakers claim as embezzlement. 

Choo has denied the allegations, saying she had donated the money the publisher gave her. 

By Ock Hyun-ju (