Ministry pursues tricky Chae case

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Ministry pursues tricky Chae case

The Ministry of Justice worked throughout the Chuseok holiday to probe Prosecutor-General Chae Dong-wook’s personal life and find out whether he has an 11-year old love child.

The JoongAng Sunday reported yesterday that all six officials of an investigation team worked last week and over the weekend, digging out material about the embattled Chae and the woman who allegedly bore him a child during an extramarital affair in 2002.

The inspectors questioned people about Chae and the woman and found out about assets owned by her.

The inspection team discovered that the mother paid part of her jeonse, or lump-sum housing deposit, on a new apartment in Gangnam District in cash on April 1. The cash payment was allegedly 100 million won ($92,200).

The team is tracking down the source of the cash.

The team is looking into whether Chae assisted the mother in sending her 11-year-old son overseas to study.

The 54-year-old prosecution chief has been at the center of a political storm since the Chosun Ilbo reported Sept. 6 that he had an illegitimate son from an extramarital affair.

Chae has made it clear he will not cooperate with the ministry’s request to hand over personal records to aid its probe.

The investigation will not be considered an official one until the ministry convenes its inspection committee, a body that acts as an adviser to the minister, to define the terms and scope of the investigation.

The inspection team will submit a report to the committee, which will then advise the minister, Hwang Kyo-an, about the advisability of proceeding. The minister is not bound, however, by that advice.

It remains to be seen whether the ministry will convene a committee.

“In order to launch an official inspection, a serious breach of law by a public servant must be found,” said a senior prosecutor at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office. “It is not guaranteed that an allegation of having a son through an extramarital affair 10 years ago amounts to a serious breach of the law.”

The Justice Ministry is mulling over ways to force Chae to cooperate with the probe amid the possibility that the probe may never come up with clear results.

BY CHOI HYEON-CHUL, KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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