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[Newsmaker] Rocky road ahead of new chief prosecutor

Kim Jin-tae. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)
Kim Jin-tae. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)
Prosecutor-general nominee Kim Jin-tae is known inside the law enforcement agency by his piquant nickname: Bull Pen. He was an acting prosecutor general in late 2012 when then the prosecutor-general resigned, taking responsibility for a series of corruption and sex scandals involving some prosecutors, as well as a failed prosecution reform. Kim was the man who put immediate effort to settle the unprecedented crisis and quickly restore the tarnished image of corrupted prosecution.

Kim is now given a second chance to lead the prosecution facing an even more serious crisis. The new chief prosecutor is expected to face the daunting task of placating the intense internal strife over the spy agency investigation controversy that is widening into a debate over the election’s legitimacy. He is also tasked to reunite divided prosecution and regain confidence among junior prosecutors condemning the prosecution’s failed leadership from external influence.

Listing Kim’s successful career at the prosecution, Cheong Wa Dae' s senior presidential press secretary Lee Jung-hyun stressed on Sunday that the prosecutor-general nominee is the “right man” for the job.

“Kim is a man of ripe experience, integrity and determination who has a strong confidence among the prosecutors,” Lee said.

Kim led a series of high-profile investigations including ex-presidents’ slush funds, corruption cases involving presidents’ children and Hanbo group in late 1990s. He is known as veteran corruption fighter who grilled and punished a number of the nation’s powerful figures including former President Roh Tae-woo and Kim Hong-up, second son of ex-President Kim Dae-jung on corruption and bribery charges.

Park’s nomination, however, was met with a mixed reaction from the ruling and opposition parties.

The ruling Saenuri lauded Park’s choice that he is the man who could unite the disrupted prosecution and live up to the public’s expectation for a fair and thorough investigations into high-profile cases. The opposition, however, questioned Cheong Wa Dae’s intention of picking Kim, a close aide to Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon.

“(We are) concerned about Kim becoming a prosecutor-general who could represent Cheong Wa Dae’s attempt to cover the truth behind the NIS probe,” said DP spokesperson Kim Kwan-young.

By Cho Chung-un (christory@heraldcorp.com)
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