Prosecutor Chae goes out fighting

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Prosecutor Chae goes out fighting

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Fellow prosecutors escort outgoing Prosecutor-General Chae Dong-wook to a car yesterday after a resignation ceremony held at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office in Seocho District, southern Seoul. Chae, who was prosecutor-general for 180 days from April 4, denied having a secret love child in a resignation speech yesterday. By Choi Seung-shik

Prosecutor-General Chae Dong-wook stepped down from his post yesterday, victim of a scandal about a secret love child he denies having.

Chae dropped his lawsuit demanding a retraction from the Chosun Ilbo, which kicked off the scandal. But he said he would refile it after he and the child in question took DNA tests.

“I have lived my life as an honest father with nothing to be ashamed about,” the veteran prosecutor said in a combative speech at a resignation ceremony yesterday at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office in Seocho District, southern Seoul.

“Six months ago, I pledged to restore the people’s trust in the prosecution. I promised you [fellow prosecutors] that I will serve as a seawall to block external pressure and influence trying to sway investigations,” said Chae. “And though it was only a short period of time, I have kept that promise.”

Chae also made personal remarks in the address, thanking his family members, including the spirit of a deceased daughter.

“I want to thank my wife, whom I met 39 years ago during high school years, and my first daughter, who always cheers for me from heaven, and my second daughter, who gives me courage and hope at a time of hardship.”

Chae’s first daughter, who suffered from cerebral palsy, died in 2009 at the age of 22. Chae’s wife and daughter attended the resignation ceremony.

Chae’s resignation came 24 days after the daily Chosun Ilbo first reported the allegation that the 54-year-old prosecutor had an affair with a woman in Busan.

The conservative newspaper claimed the woman bore Chae a child in 2002. Chae, a prosecutor of 25 years, was prosecutor-general for 180 days from April 4.

Chae tendered his resignation on Sept. 13 after Justice Minister Hwang Kyo-an ordered an internal investigation into Chae’s personal life, the first time the ministry had ordered an internal investigation into the top prosecutor.

President Park Geun-hye, however, did not accept his resignation, saying the truth about the case should be discovered first. On Friday, Justice Minister Hwang recommended the president accept Chae’s resignation because the internal investigation supported the allegation that Chae has an out-of-wedlock son.

The president accepted the resignation Saturday. Chae is the first prosecution chief to step down because of a personal scandal.

The prosecution’s aggressive investigation into alleged meddling by the National Intelligence Service in last year’s presidential election has led to rumors that the president and the Blue House were behind the news about Chae’s alleged love-child leaking, which the presidential office has denied.

Chae dropped his lawsuit against the Chosun Ilbo, which he had filed last week, demanding the newspaper issue a correction. In a statement, he said he would take every measure possible to prove he is not the biological father of the 11-year-old boy. He asked the mother of the boy to have his DNA tested too.

In the statement released yesterday, Chae said he was dropping the suit because “without DNA test results, a long legal battle [with the Chosun] is inevitable.”

Chae said he will seek tougher legal action against the paper once the DNA tests prove that the boy is not his son.
Chae also made a rare criticism of the Ministry of Justice for its internal investigation into the allegation.

“Without laying bare the truth, the Justice Ministry [prematurely] announced the investigation result that only aroused more suspicions, deepening the pain inflicted [on my family].”

BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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