Supreme Court nominees a lot alike

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Supreme Court nominees a lot alike

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Ko Young-han, Kim Shin, Kim Chang-suk and Kim Byung-wha (from left)


The chief justice of the Supreme Court yesterday gave President Lee Myung-bak the shortlist of four candidates to replace the justices of the highest court whose terms are ending next month, despite sharp criticism from the opposing party and civic organizations.

Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae selected four candidates from 13 Supreme Court justice nominees yesterday: Ko Young-han, 57, vice minister of the National Court Administration; Kim Shin, 55, head judge of the Ulsan District Court; Kim Chang-suk, 56, president of the Supreme Court Library and senior judge at the Seoul High Court; and Kim Byung-wha, 57, head prosecutor at the Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office.

Last Friday, the nomination committee selected 13 candidates to replace Supreme Court justices Park Il-hwan, Kim Neung-hwan, Chon Soo-an and Ahn Dae-hee, whose six-year terms will end in July.

The candidates were criticized by the public for being of the same background, age group and gender.

The selection was slammed by the Democratic United Party who demanded on Sunday at the National Assembly a reselection of nominees, stating that all the candidates were cookie-cutter conservatives in favor of the incumbent president.

Of these original 13 nominees selected by the committee, nine are high-ranking judges, one is a professor and three have prosecutorial experiences. They are all in their 50s and male. Nine are graduates of the Seoul National University’s law department. Missing were females or progressives.

Three of the four justice candidates selected by Chief Justice Yang, except Kim Chang-suk who graduated from the Korea University’s department of law, are SNU law graduates. Three are incumbent judges. They come from diverse regions including Busan, South Chungcheong and North Gyeongsang.

The four new justices would be appointed by the president if they are approved in the National Assembly.

DUP spokesman Park Young-jin said yesterday upon the selection of the four candidates, “Even though the DUP requested for a reselection of nominees to take into consideration females and those with different values, the four justices selected today being mostly high-ranking male judges and is an area that must be taken into consideration in the [National Assembly] hearing process.”

Civic organizations and women’s rights activists likewise demanded the Supreme Court chief justice to reconsider the selection in replacing a third of the justices. The Korea Women’s Association United and People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy expressed they were opposed to the justice nominations, stating that they were “not representative of the diversity in society” in a rally in front of the Supreme Court in Seocho District, southern Seoul, yesterday.

The People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy cited a survey they held of 1,000 adults nationwide which found that the majority of those surveyed said that those with legal backgrounds who are not judges should be selected as Supreme Court justices for diversity’s sake and to better represent the people.

These protesters stated that “depending on who is justice, rulings will change.”


By Sarah Kim, Lee Dong-hyun [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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