Prosecutor general nominee confirmed by reps

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Prosecutor general nominee confirmed by reps

The ruling and opposition parties yesterday okayed President Park Geun-hye’s nomination for prosecutor general, while they disagreed over her selection of the minister to head the new future planning ministry.

The National Assembly’s Legislation and Judiciary Committee confirmed yesterday Park’s decision to name Chae Dong-wook, head of the Seoul High Prosecutors’ Office, as the new prosecutor general. The 54-year-old veteran prosecutor received rare bipartisan backing after the committee questioned him at a hearing Tuesday.

Ruling and opposition parties said they concurred that Chae has rich experience in investigations and a strong will to reform the prosecution. He was also praised for good ethics.

A native of Seoul, Chae is a graduate of Seoul National University who passed the bar exam in 1982. Throughout his career, Chae investigated many high-profile cases involving political bigwigs. When he was a junior prosecutor, he took part in a special investigation into slush funds of former presidents Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae-woo. He also investigated Chun’s military coup on Dec. 12, 1979 and the May 18 Democratization Movement.

The ruling and opposition parties, however, failed to agree on Park’s choice of ministers who will head two new ministries.

Choi Mun-kee, a telecommunications technology expert, was nominated to lead the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, while Yoon Jin-sook, director at the Korea Maritime Institute, was nominated to head the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.

Choi’s nomination came last month after Kim Jeong-hun, a famed telecom entrepreneur from the United States, abandoned his nomination after opposition parties took pot shots at him and delayed bills to restructure the government and establish the new ministry.

Choi, former head of the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute, the largest government funded research institute, was grilled Monday by the National Assembly’s Committee on Science, ICT, Future Planning, Broadcasting and Communications.

The opposition Democratic United Party said Tuesday that Choi was unfit for the job due to his lack of understanding of the ministry’s missions. The ruling Saenuri Party argued that Choi does not have serious shortcomings.

Yoon was grilled by lawmakers on the Agriculture, Food, Rural Affairs, Oceans and Fisheries Committee Tuesday and both the ruling and opposition parties are reluctant to confirm her.

“We scrutinized her ability to head the ministry and allegations that she speculated on real estate,” Representative Yun Kwan-seok, spokesman of the DUP, said yesterday. “She was criticized for lacking abilities and ethics.”

Although Yoon was nominated in February, her confirmation hearing only took place this week because of the National Assembly’s delay in revising the Government Organization Act.

Five years ago, the Lee Myung-bak administration shut down the Maritime Ministry. Park decided to bring it back with the new name the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.

During the confirmation hearing, Yoon failed to answer many basic questions about the ministry’s operations, and lawmakers questioned if she was ready for the job.

As lawmakers criticized her poor preparation, Yoon said, “I, at first, told the president that I am not qualified for the job. I told her that a capable, politically powerful person should lead the ministry because it will be re-launching.”

Even if the committees refuse to confirm the minister-nominees, Park can still go ahead and appoint them.


By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]
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