[EDITORIALS]A new justice minister?

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[EDITORIALS]A new justice minister?

The new cabinet launched Tuesday has triggered some stinging criticism, and part of it centers on the baffling replacement of the minister of justice, Choi Kyung-won. The move came as a shock to the prosecution. Observers who are waiting for prosecutorial reform after the appointment of Lee Myung-jae as the new chief are also puzzled.

We do not know why Mr. Choi was sacked after just eight months in the post. He was given the nod when his predecessor, Ahn Dong-su, left office 48 hours after pledging undying personal loyalty to President Kim. Mr. Choi was popular, and the president was reportedly satisfied with his early work. He seemed to be managing as well as possible the mess at the Prosecutor's Office, and was expected to shake up the top ranks of the prosecution.

We do not want to believe the analysis that he was replaced because of the school he went to or because the minister and the prosecutor general were both non-Jeolla men. The president has vowed publicly to stop such regional and old-school-tie favoritism.

The prosecution is in no position, particularly now, to be seized with controversies over personal backgrounds. What it needs is reform that will bring back the public's trust. The president and others who make appointments must surely know this.

And some high-ranking prosecutors' complaints have surfaced, alleging that appointments planned for the prosecution's top posts are politically biased against those from a certain region.

If this is what they have been saying publicly, the prosecutors would seem to have lost all their integrity. If senior prosecutors are more concerned about their personal interests than the prosecution's efforts to reform, that is an outrage and grounds for sanctions for mixing politics with their jobs.

The focus of the prosecution's reform is in fair appointments. The new appointments to the top posts should not only cleanse the organization of incompetent prosecutors but also those who are politically motivated. It is yet to be seen whether the replacement of the justice minister is intended by the government to exert greater control over the prosecution. It is for that reason that interest is keen on what steps the new justice minister, Song Jeong-ho, will take.
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