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Appointment process for CIO chief begins

A committee that will recommend candidates for the top job within a new investigation body targeting high-ranking public officials held its first meeting Friday, putting in motion President Moon Jae-in’s prosecution reform initiative.

The main opposition People Power Party designated two experts to join the seven-member committee on Tuesday. The ruling Democratic Party of Korea seeks to complete the launch of the Corruption Investigation Office for High-Ranking Officials, or CIO, before the end of November.

“The party will pay attention to whether the activities regarding recommending the CIO chief reflect the will of the public and promptly it carry out,” ruling party spokesman Choi In-ho said via Facebook.

The launch of the CIO, an important aspect of Moon’s reform initiative to rebalance the “almighty” prosecutors’ power, was delayed as the opposition party put the brakes on procedures like selecting experts to recommend a chief.

The law authorizing the launch of the CIO took effect in July this year, and many expected the body to be installed sooner.

“I hope that you will recommend someone who will meet the people’s desires and the spirit of law without political views,” said National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug after granting the committee members their letters of appointment Friday morning.

The seven-member committee will also include Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae, head of the National Court Administration Cho Jae-youn and Korean Bar Association President Lee Chan-hee.

The team will have four experts: professor Kim Jong-cheol of Yonsei University School of Law and Park Kyung-jun, a lawyer, both picked by the ruling party; and prosecutor-turned-lawyer Im Jeong-hyuk and Lee Hun, former head of the Korea Legal Aid Corporation, selected by the main opposition party.

During the first meeting, they picked National Court Administration head Cho Jae-youn as the committee chairperson. The next meeting will take place in two weeks.

Once the committee narrows down the choice of candidates to two, who must both gain support from at least six members of the panel, the president will select one. A National Assembly confirmation hearing is needed before the appointee can assume the top job.

By Park Han-na (